FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Karina S. Beard, 44, of Turlock, pleaded guilty today to four counts of mail fraud and two counts of federal Workers’ Compensation fraud.
According to the plea agreement, from October 2006 through January 2009, Beard received federal workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury she sustained in 2000 while working for the Postal Service. Because of her claimed injuries, restrictions were placed on her physical activities. According to the plea, Beard performed various physical tasks using the purportedly injured part of her body, such as horseback riding.
According to court documents, Beard made false claims on a United States Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) form. The OWCP is required to make an inquiry of every claimant who receives total disability benefits to ascertain whether the claimant has had any employment, earnings, or changes in their medical condition over the previous 15 months. In compliance with regulations, OWCP sends out a questionnaire to each claimant. Claimants reporting changes in employment, earnings, or their medical condition on the questionnaire may experience a reduction or termination of benefits.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.
Beard is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on January 9, 2012. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail fraud. For each count of federal Workers’ Compensation fraud, the maximum statutory penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.