Martinez, CA – The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office recently charged Maria Mendoza with numerous counts of insurance fraud and investigators with the DA’s Office arrested her this past Friday. The investigation originated after reports of a staged slip and fall in October 2017 at an Olive Garden restaurant located in Pittsburg. The suspect’s insurance claims history revealed a pattern of short stints of employment followed by claims against the employer. The charges allege four specific instances of workers’ compensation fraud against four different employers, and two additional instances of auto insurance fraud.
The first workers’ compensation fraud charge relates to Mendoza’s employment at Pronto Cleaning Services in early 2014. The charge alleges that Mendoza’s employment terminated after only three months of work. She hired a workers’ compensation attorney to file multiple workers compensation claims, including an allegation that her three months of cleaning resulted in cumulative trauma to her hands, wrists, and knees. She and her attorney litigated the claim throughout 2016 and 2017.
The complaint further alleges that Mendoza obtained employment at Architectural Glass & Aluminum Company and worked in a factory setting in late 2014. Her employment terminated there after two months and again a workers’ compensation claim followed. The complaint alleges that she told medical professionals evaluating her that she made no prior claims and is not a party to any civil litigation.
The third workers’ compensation fraud charged relates to employment at Olive Garden. Olive Garden hired Mendoza for work in 2017, but after approximately five months several employees and a manager reported that Mendoza faked a slip and fall on her way to a scheduled disciplinary hearing. She again hired an attorney to file and litigate a workers’ compensation insurance claim for injuries to her knees and ankles from the fall.
The final workers’ compensation fraud charged relates to yet another slip and fall claim at Claim Jumper in 2018. After approximately one month at Claim Jumper Restaurant, Mendoza visited a doctor to report a new slip and fall at work. The complaint again alleges that she falsely told the doctor evaluating her that she never previously filed a workers’ compensation insurance claim.
She is also charged with filing an auto insurance claim alleging an accident in April of 2014. Mendoza claimed the same injuries that she pursued in her workers’ compensation claim against Pronto Cleaning, as well as filing a 2018 auto insurance claim for damage to the same vehicle that her attorney claimed was totaled in the 2014 accident.
False insurance claims hurt small business owners with massive rate increases and the general public as the costs of those frauds are passed on to the consumer. The District Attorney’s Office reminds those considering fraud that reporting a fake injury at work to get money or other benefits is insurance fraud punishable by up to five years state prison and an additional fine of up to $50,000.
Source: Contra Costa County DA’s Office