California Postal Worker Sentenced To Prison For Workers’ Compensation Fraud

FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that today Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Karina S. Beard, 44, of Turlock, to one year in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for four counts of mail fraud and two counts of federal workers’ compensation fraud. Beard was also ordered to pay $81,694 in restitution.

According to court documents, Beard worked as a distribution and window clerk for the Postal Service in Groveland. From October 2006 through January 2009, Beard received federal workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury. Because of her claimed injuries, restrictions were placed on Beard’s physical activities: no reaching, no pushing, no pulling, no driving for more than 20 minutes, etc. Yet, Beard performed various physical tasks, such as horseback riding, caring for horses, yard work, and driving all using the purportedly injured part of her body. Because of claims Beard made in routine Department of Labor questionnaires, she continued to receive workers’ compensation benefits, all while not entitled to such benefits.

At least once a year the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs is required to ask every total disability benefit claimant 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 conditions on the questionnaire may experience a reduction or termination of benefits.

This case was the product of an investigation by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.

“Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General will vigorously pursue anyone who commits this offense. Today’s sentencing shows that our agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate abuse of the workers’ compensation program and violators will be brought to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Nichole Cooper, Pacific Area Field Office, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

Beard was ordered to begin serving her sentence on February 16, 2012.