SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Maria Arrieta, 51, of Victorville, has been charged with multiple counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud and perjury.
In June 2010, Arrieta was injured as a result of her duties at McDonald's Hamburger Restaurant. She was treated for burns to her hands and released.
“Sometime later, Ms. Arrieta filed a fraudulent workers' compensation claim alleging that she slipped and fell at work while removing a case of meat from the freezer on the same day and had injured her foot,” said Jose Guzman, Senior Investigator assigned to the case. “However, she made no mention to the physician who was treating her hand of her slip and fall accident which allegedly occurred earlier the same day as the hand injury.”
According to Guzman, approximately nine days earlier to the incident, Arrieta had been seen by her primary care physician and told him that she had sustained her foot injury at home and not at work. Arrieta was ultimately diagnosed with a non-work related medical condition for which she is seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
In Aug. 2010, Arrieta was examined by a specialist in Podiatric Medicine, a Qualified Medical Examiner (QME).
“The QME reviewed the medical history questionnaire completed by Arrieta, who advised the doctor that she injured her foot at home on her day off from work,” said Guzman. “Again, she made no mention of the injury being work-related.”
The QME submitted Employment Development Department (EDD) paperwork indicating a non-work related injury. Arrieta later obtained a workers’ compensation attorney who filed a claim for her in May 2011, alleging the slip and fall foot injury. The insurance company then referred the case to the District Attorney’s Office, Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit in Oct. 2011 for a fraud investigation.
On Feb. 11, 2013, the District Attorney's Office Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit filed criminal charges against Arrieta for knowingly filing a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim to obtain benefits for a non-work-related injury.
Arrieta was taken into custody the next day by District Attorney Investigators at the Santa Ana Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, while awaiting a hearing in her workers’ compensation case. Arrieta was transported to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga and booked.
Arrieta is scheduled to be arraigned April 18 in Victorville Superior Court. If convicted as charged, she faces 19 years in County Prison. Deputy District Attorney Scott Byrd will prosecute this case.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, Workers’ Compensation Fraud Prosecution Unit, responds to various reports of Insurance Fraud as a result of suspected fraud claims provided by an insurance company.
If you suspect that someone you know is or has been involved in Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud, report your suspicions to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's, Workers’ Compensation Fraud Prosecution Unit, by calling 909-387-8309 or via email at DAWorkersComp@sbcda.org. You can also visit us on the web at www.sbcountyda.org.