December 16, 2017

WA Grocery Store Worker, Aesthetician Charged in Separate WC Fraud Cases

Tumwater, WA – One claimed she hurt herself chasing a shoplifter, and the other insisted her spa injury was so serious she couldn’t work.Now the two women in these unrelated cases face felony theft charges alleging they stole workers’ compensation benefits.

Marlo Diana Johnston, 29, of Everett, and Sulia Hernandez Carranza, 50, each have been charged with one count of first-degree theft.

Carranza, whose last known addresses were in Kennewick and Spokane, was scheduled for arraignment in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Johnston’s arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 29 in Snohomish County Superior Court.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office filed the charges based on investigations by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Fibbing about a chase
Charging papers say Carranza claimed she injured her knee in May 2014 when chasing a shoplifter in her job as a loss prevention specialist at a Pasco grocery store. L&I opened a workers’ comp claim for Carranza, which provided medical care for the workplace injury. The store allowed her to keep working with medical restrictions while her knee was being treated.

In April 2015, however, Carranza admitted she wasn’t really injured on the job, according to the charges. She apologized to her employer, saying she filed the false claim to get medical treatment for a painful, preexisting knee problem.

Carranza is accused of stealing more than $11,000 in L&I benefits, including more than $7,200 for medical treatment. The amount also includes nearly $3,900 that L&I reimbursed the store for providing Carranza with light duty instead of requiring her regular job tasks.

Concealing job as aesthetician
Johnston is accused of stealing more than $16,000 in wage replacement payments while signing official L&I documents that she wasn’t working due to a workplace injury. In reality, charging papers say, she was working as an aesthetician at a medical services spa in Edmonds from September 2012 through February 2013.

Charging papers say she hid the fact she was working from L&I, her attorney, her L&I vocational counselor and the doctor who approved her to receive wage replacement benefits. Johnston originally injured her left hand while working for a Bellevue salon and spa in 2007.

L&I investigators discovered the case last year while comparing L&I workers’ comp records with state Employment Security Department payroll records.

Source: WA L&I

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