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Undercover operation leads to conviction of Maxwell rice mill worker in insurance fraud scheme

News: 2021 Press Release

For Release: May 3, 2021
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Undercover operation leads to conviction of Maxwell rice mill worker in insurance fraud scheme
Surveillance at bar captures worker discussing fraudulent workers’ compensation claim

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Brooke Gomez, 29, of Maxwell, was convicted and sentenced 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 while working for another employer.

Gomez pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge and was sentenced in Colusa County Superior Court on April 26, 2021. She was placed on 12 months summary probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution and $630 in fines.

On August 14, 2019, while working as a rice grader, Gomez sustained an abdominal injury 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. 

Gomez told her employer she had been offered several part-time jobs, but declined the offers due to her work injury. However, other mill workers reported to their employer that they witnessed Gomez working as a bartender at a local bar.

An investigation by the California Department of Insurance found Gomez misrepresented her symptoms to medical professionals and those handling her claim. 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. 

Due to Gomez’s misrepresentations, she received $6,893 in undeserved workers’ compensation payments and her employers’ insurance company lost an additional $8,992 in legal and investigation costs.

This case was prosecuted by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office. 

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $340 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. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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