Washington postal worker gets 90 days’ incarceration for 10-year health insurance theft

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Juelene Perez Owens (Perez), 37, of Mossyrock, Washington pleaded guilty in Lewis County Superior Court to first-degree theft, a felony, after a decade of misappropriating health insurance benefits. Perez was sentenced to 90 days of incarceration that she will serve on electronic home monitoring. She will pay restitution that will be determined at a later date.

Perez was employed by the U.S. Postal Service and defrauded the health insurance plan it provided through Group Health of $350,000 in medical and prescription claims for her boyfriend, whom she enrolled as her husband. The boyfriend, Jose. P. Lopez, was insured on the Postal Service plan from 2004-2014.

Officials charged Perez in October after an investigation by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Postal Service and U.S. Office of Personnel Management Offices of Inspector General.

Kreidler’s SIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.