A Maxwell rice mill worker was convicted and sentenced last week on one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation insurance fraud after she claimed to be too injured to work in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Brooke Gomez, 29, pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge after she was caught on surveillance working for another employer while reportedly injured, according to the California Department of Insurance.
Gomez was sentenced in Colusa County Superior Court on April 26. She was placed on 12 months summary probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution and $630 in fines.
According to a news release by the California Department of Insurance, Gomez, a rice grader, claimed she sustained an abdominal injury on Aug. 14, 2019, while lifting bags of rice.
Following her injury, a workers’ compensation claim was filed with her employer’s insurance company and Gomez began receiving workers’ compensation payments, the CDI noted.
Gomez reportedly told her employer she had been offered several part-time jobs, but declined the offers due to her work injury. However, Gomez was observed by others working as a bartender at a local bar and was reported for fraud.
An investigation by the California Department of Insurance found Gomez misrepresented her symptoms to medical professionals and those handling her claim, the news release stated. Undercover surveillance showed Gomez interacting with customers, serving drinks, completing cash transactions with patrons, and wiping down tables, all functions she claimed not to be able to do as a result of her injury. The surveillance also discovered Gomez discussing her workers’ compensation claim with bar patrons and discussing her hopes of not getting caught working at the bar while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
By her misrepresentations, Gomez received $6,893 in undeserved workers’ compensation payments and her employers’ insurance company lost an additional $8,992 in legal and investigation costs, the CDI concluded.
The case was prosecuted by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office. §