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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 2:45 pm | Fair 63º


Santa Barbara Police Officer Charged With Worker’s Compensation Insurance Fraud

A Santa Barbara police officer was charged with four felonies related to worker’s compensation insurance fraud, allegedly committed while employed at the department, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Jacob Finerty, 28, was hired by the SBPD in September 2011 and a worker’s compensation fraud investigation began in 2014, interim Police Chief John Crombach said.

“This came to our attention I think in 2014 and we initiated an investigation, and it then began to take a criminal turn when there appeared there was some fraud involved here,” he said.

Finerty has been out on leave, related to his worker’s compensation claim, on and off since 2014 and was placed on unpaid leave several weeks ago, pending the trial, Crombach said.

The claim was for an alleged work-related injury, Crombach said.

The District Attorney’s Office filed four felony of insurance fraud counts against Finerty and Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling, who is prosecuting the case, said the two insurance code sections both apply to worker’s compensation fraud; One section applies to a fraudulent oral statement and the other applies to fraudulent written statements. 

Finerty, identified by the District Attorney’s Office as a resident of Hesperia in San Bernardino County, had not been booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail as of Monday afternoon, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

He is not in custody and is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court June 24.

SBPD detectives conducted the investigation after the California Department of Insurance declined to take the case, Crombach said.

“We investigate all allegations of misconduct, and during the investigation if it appears that it’s criminal in nature, then that’s the way the investigation goes and then we present the results to the DA,” he said.

He thanked the District Attorney’s Office for its role analyzing the complex case and said “no one’s above the law.”

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said the fact Finerty was a police officer wasn't a consideration in the charges. Worker’s compensation fraud charges have been filed against other local government employees in the past, she said. 

In presentations to other government agencies and companies, “we make it clear that we’re in the business of investigating fraud on every level, including worker’s comp,” she said. 

This is the second high-profile SBPD employee criminal case in recent years, with former business office manager Karen Flores sentenced to state prison after pleading no contest to embezzlement, stealing public funds and destroying parking citations. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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