WC Case Leads to Identity Theft, Fraud Charges

                               Albany, NY (CompNewsNetwork) - A Kingston woman whose former employer noticed her working at a fast food restaurant in the Town of Ulster while she was collecting workers' compensation benefits for an injured back was arrested Wednesday.

Erika Bravo, 35, of St. James Street, is accused of fraudulently accepting $34,900 in benefits over a two-year period. She was arrested after a joint investigation by the New York State Insurance Department's Frauds Bureau and the Town of Ulster Police Department. She is being held without bail pending a May 11 hearing on an unrelated immigration investigation.

Bravo started collecting the benefits after hurting her back while employed as a housekeeper at a senior citizens residence in August 2007. However, she accepted the benefits while continuing to work at what had been her second job at a fast food restaurant.

She testified at a workers' compensation hearing in 2008 that she was no longer working. However, some time after the hearing, her former employer at the senior citizen residence noticed her working in another area fast food restaurant. The employer contacted investigators who discovered that Bravo had gained employment at the restaurant using the name of a distant relative, as well as a fictitious address and Social Security number.

Bravo faces charges of perjury, insurance fraud, identity theft and workers' compensation fraud. She could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if she is convicted. A hearing will be held in Ulster County Court.

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