FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 10, 2014
Couple Pleads Guilty to Workers’ Compensation Fraud
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Victorville couple pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud charges stemming from a 2013 investigation by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit.
Melinda O’Connor, 56, pleaded guilty in Victorville Superior Court to a single felony count of Workers’ Compensation Fraud and David Muro, 58, pleaded guilty to Aiding and Abetting Workers’ Compensation Fraud.
In April 2009, O’Connor was injured during the course of her employment as an educational assistant for special needs children when she miss-stepped and sprained her ankle. As a result, she was transported to a local hospital where she was treated with minor restrictions.
According to Deputy District Attorney Scott Byrd, who prosecuted the case, O’Connor filed a claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits against the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and received medical treatment for several years with “little to no improvement.”
As with most government public education entities, the Superintendent of Schools is self-insured.
The case was referred to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Worker’s Compensation Fraud Unit after video surveillance obtained during the investigation revealed that O’Connor was not truthful about her alleged injuries.
A criminal investigation was launched, which resulted in charges being filed against O’Connor and her boyfriend David Muro, who was caught on video assisting O’Conner in the fraud.
“On one particular day, the video surveillance revealed O’Connor and Muro arriving at one of O’Connor’s doctor appointments,” Byrd said. “While previous surveillance revealed O’Connor going about her activities without the assistance of medical devices, she all of a sudden was carrying a cane, wearing an ankle brace and was using a wheelchair.”
Muro helped O’Connor perpetuate the fraud by pushing her in the wheelchair into the doctor’s office. Thirty minutes after leaving the doctor’s office, O’Connor and Muro were observed walking into a local restaurant to enjoy a meal.
O’Connor no longer had the cane, ankle brace or the wheelchair and O’Connor walked into and out of the restaurant without signs of injury and without any assistance.
O’Connor was sentenced to 30 days in County Jail and received 100 hours of community service. Muro was sentenced to 30 days in County Jail. Victim Restitution will be decided at a later court hearing scheduled for April 15, 2014.
“In the last fiscal year, the California Department of Insurance estimated that losses over $360 million could be attributed to fraud in the Workers’ Compensation system. This type of criminal behavior not only increases costs to law abiding businesses, but ultimately to all of us as consumers. I urge you to report any suspected fraudulent activity when you see it.”
- District Attorney Mike Ramos
Please Post the Following Announcement
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 the WCF We-Tip line at 909-891-3344 or via email at DAWorkersComp@sbcda.org. You can also visit us on the web at www.sbcountyda.org.
For more information about the District Attorney’s Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit visit http://ow.ly/vqVJ1.