Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Friday that Leonel Gonzalez, 26, of Lompoc pleaded no contest to one felony count of fraud under Insurance Code Section 1871.4(a)(2), commonly known as workers’ compensation fraud.
An investigation by Detective Rebekah McClain of the Valencia office of the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division revealed that Gonzalez was very physically active despite his claims to the contrary. Surveillance video shows Gonzalez working out with a punching bag, doing martial arts, hitting a speed bag, using a shovel to dig a large hole and then planting a tree.
Gonzalez had told his doctor that his pain was so severe that he could not care for himself without assistance, that he was unable to work at all and that his pain severely restricted his daily activities.
Gonzalez also claimed to be unable to walk or stand for more than 15 minutes. However, he was captured on videotape shopping at Costco for more than one hour and 15 minutes with no apparent discomfort, despite walking the entire time, pushing a shopping cart, and lifting large and heavy items.
“Workers’ compensation fraud is a crime that has far-reaching effects on businesses and consumers in Santa Barbara County,” Dudley said. “Therefore, our office will continue to rigorously prosecute those who violate these laws.”
Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 16 in Superior Court. Dudley said he will be ordered to serve 180 days in County Jail, be placed on three years of probation and be ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,780.