Fraudulent disability claim nets care facility owner more than $174,000
News: 2014 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Myrna Bote, 58, of La Puente, owner, operator and x-ray technician at Carmel Family Homes has been charged with presenting fraudulent information, failure to disclose and grand theft. Bote allegedly concealed the scope of her self-employment following her disability claim in order to continue collecting disability payments totaling more than $174,000 to which she was not entitled.
"Disability fraud costs insurers millions of dollars each year," said Commissioner Jones. "As Insurance Commissioner I am committed to ensuring there is a stable and vibrant insurance market in California. The cost of fraud is not only passed to consumers through higher premiums, but it destabilizes the market which is why we are making a concerted effort to stop those who cheat the system."
Bote purchased her individual disability insurance policy in 2000, but did not disclose she was self-employed as a residential care facility administrator. Bote later submitted a claim for disability stating she was unable to perform her duties as an x-ray technician due to carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain. During the claims process Bote stated that she had no other form of employment and she had transferred her ownership of the care facility to her husband.
The California Department of Insurance opened an investigation and discovered that Bote had not transferred ownership of the facility and she was earning income from her administrative duties. The investigation further revealed that Bote had continuously been involved with Carmel Family Home throughout the duration of her disability claim. Under Bote's policy, any income she earned from other employment would reduce the amount of her disability benefit.
According to department investigators, Bote was paid benefits she would not have received had she accurately disclosed her ownership and involvement in Carmel Family Home. Bote was arrested in March and the Los Angeles County District Attorney froze Bote's assets, including four properties and six bank accounts. If convicted, Bote faces up to 10 years in state prison, $60,000 in fines and full restitution in the amount of $174,200.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.