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CA Department of Insurance

Wife gets arrested when husband dies, but she continues to cash his workers’ compensation checks

News: 2013 Press Release

For Release: September 6, 2013
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Wife gets arrested when husband dies, but she continues to cash his workers’ compensation checks
Overpayment of benefits results in wife fraudulently receiving over $500,000

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Rosa Maria Barajas, 68, of Huntington Park, was arrested for allegedly receiving workers' compensation benefits of her deceased husband. The arrest was made by California Department of Insurance Detectives with assistance from the Huntington Park Police Department. Barajas is charged with two felony counts of insurance fraud.

New York Life contacted the California Department of Insurance in January of 2013 to report that Barajas was continuing to collect on her deceased husband's workers' compensation settlement. Barajas had been receiving monthly payments of over $18,000 that would continue only while Jesus Barajas was alive, as ordered by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board in September of 2000. As part of the agreement Rosa Barajas was directed to notify New York Life in the event of the demise of her husband, but according to the investigators she failed to do so when Jesus Barajas died in May of 2010.

"Workers' compensation fraud is a drain on California's economy and can increase the cost of doing business, result in a decrease in employee salaries, and increase the cost of insurance for all Californians," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Employees need to know that their family will receive compensation if they are injured at work, but their families must also be honest with insurers if they are no longer entitled to receive settlement payments for a deceased family member."

Jesus Barajas suffered an industrial accident in October of 1997 when he fell from a scaffold while working for Aramark Uniform Services. As a result of his accident and serious injuries, Jesus was comatose and declared legally brain dead. Due to his condition, Rosa was appointed his legal guardian in April of 1998 by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board and placed in charge of all his financial dealings and pending workers' compensation suit.

Bail has been set at $505,341. If convicted, Barajas faces up to five years in state prison and a fine in excess of $500,000.

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Media Notes:

Timeline

Oct. 1997 - Jesus Barajas is injured while working for Aramark.

Apr. 1998 - Settlement established $18,000 per month, increasing 4 percent per year, and monthly payments of $737 to his heirs in the event of premature death.

May 2010 - Jesus Barajas died and his wife fails to notify insurer.

Jan. 2013 - New York Life notifies California Department of Insurance of potential fraud.

Sept. 5, 2013 - Rosa Maria Barajas is arrested for insurance fraud.

 

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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