San Jose, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) - A lab worker, a housekeeper at a local mall and a roofer have each recently been charged with felony insurance fraud in separate cases in which they falsely claimed that their workplace injuries had prevented them from returning to work.
Cosme Cortes-Alva, 39, of San Jose, Nancy Benitez, 28, of San Jose, Ajitender Singh Chadha, 53, of Union City, could be sentenced to prison time, if convicted, and will be ordered to pay full restitution. They have all been arraigned, are out of custody, and await preliminary hearings.
The three cases share allegations that the defendants claimed debilitating injuries and were later seen to be doing physical activities beyond their stated limitations while collecting thousands in insurance benefits. In one case, a man was videotaped for two hours clambering up and down from a roof despite claiming that he was too hurt to work and terrified of ladders.
“The Workers' Compensation system is set up to quickly compensate injured workers while they recuperate from their injuries,” Deputy District Attorney David Soares said. “When an injured worker lies about the extent of their injury or their physical abilities as they recover, they are adding unnecessary costs that potentially cheat every worker and every employer in California.”
Alva, who fell off of a roof and badly injured his back in 2013, falsely testified at a deposition that he had not worked at all since his injury.
Benitez, who was hurt doing housekeeping for a store at Valley Fair Mall in 2011, told the insurance company that she could not walk or drive without extreme pain. She was later seen driving to a mall, shopping and caring for a small child.
Chadha said that he was hurt during a 2011 accident at the lab where he worked, could not work, and was reliant upon his wife's income. An investigation found that he was actually the owner and operator of a gas station, and that he was concealing his income.