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What is a Typical Sentence for Workers' Compensation Fraud?

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What is a typical sentence for Workers’ Compensation Fraud?

Clients often ask “What is a typical sentence for Workers’ Compensation Fraud?” There is no easy answer. The cases have increased sentences depending upon how much money is at issue. Certain charges run together at sentencing so that someone charged with four different counts of fraud may end up sentenced on all four or just one. “It depends”. Also many financial fraud cases end up with the person sentenced to serve prison time not in prison but in county jail.

A recent Sacramento workers’ compensation fraud case may provide some insight into fraud sentencing. On May 2, 2024, Christopher Dangelo Green pled no contest to felony insurance fraud. The key point is that he pled. No contest ends up the same as “guilty”, it is just a way of saying, I don’t contest the charges but I won’t mouth the words “guilty”. In 99.9% of plea cases a deal in place.

The case was three years old at the time of the plea. The prosecution claimed that Green reported being injured when he was a worker on a road crew that repaved roadways. The first red flag was the absence of any witness to the injury.

In many cases a person reporting injuries relates the facts a bit differently to employers, then to doctors and to friends. This does not mean the person is lying. Also, unless a statement is recorded different people may have different memories (or make different notes) as to what was said. In Mr. Green’s case the prosecution claimed that the reports of the accident by Mr. Green were so conflicting as to indicate that he made up facts.

Another potentially innocent fact was used against Mr. Green. He co-workers reported he recently told them he needed money. That is not atypical. However, the prosecution also claimed that he told his co-workers that he and hoped he was involved in a “freak accident” at work so he could get paid out. Now we are in the area of credibility. Did he really say this? If he did, that’s trouble for the defense.

It got worse.

Two co-workers claimed that he asked them to hit him with a vehicle while at work so he could get money to help pay his debts. Again, if true that is a very serious indication that his inconsistent versions of the accident were not innocent variations on a consistent theme.

Like most workers’ compensation fraud cases there was video surveillance which the prosecution contended showed that Green was not really hurt

So was the sentence fair? On one hand Mr. Green was rather obvious in needing money and (if true) in making statements to co-workers indicating an intention to commit fraud. On the other hand, there is something rather desperate (sad?) about the account. He easily could have faced 3-4 years in prison for what he seems to have done. So “fair”? That is a tough question. Typical? Again, no case is typical but the Green case is illustrative of a resolution that in the realm of normal for this type of case. Had Mr. Green gone to trial and lost it is likely his sentence would have been higher.

Consider the Martha Stewart "fraud" case. Martha Stewart was investigated for insider trading of stocks and she was completely innocent.  She was found at trial to have been untruthful when interviewed about the facts of the stock trades (even though the truth was that she did nothing wrong).  She was convicted and received 5 years in jail.

Our office has a great deal of experience fighting fraud and workers’ compensation fraud cases. We often focus on the medical aspects, challenge the surveillance videos and question the accuracy and interpretation of hostile witness accounts. If you are facing workers’ compensation fraud charges in California, our expert attorneys can help you.