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August 24, 2014

A Crazy Tale: Beauty and the Feet

Summary:

After competing in two pageants while collecting workers' comp for an injury that kept her off of her job, a woman is charged with fraud.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Lewis

From the “you can’t make this stuff up” department: A beauty pageant contestant in California has been arrested and charged with workers’ compensation fraud after participating in two beauty pageants while collecting workers’ comp for an injury that prevented her from performing her job.

The 22-year-old woman was charged with three felony counts of defrauding an insurance company. She is apparently out of jail on $5,000 bail. Her family is vehemently denying the allegations, with her father quoted as saying of the charges, “All we’re going to say is it is absolute crap.”

While the absolute crap defense has been tried with limited success in previous fraud cases, it remains to be seen how effective it will be for this particular case.

This young “beauty queen to be” had worked for Stater Brothers market as a clerk, where she had filed a claim saying she had broken her toe on the job. She maintained that the injury was too painful to allow her to return to work and that wearing shoes for any length of time (coincidentally like a work shift) was not possible with the injury. Her physician provided her with orthopedic shoes and crutches to use until her injury healed.

Investigators allege they found video and images on her social media sites showing she participated in two pageants during this same period, and did so wearing and walking in high heels. The pageant where the video was shot was the Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant.

Not so surprisingly, Stater says she is no longer employed there. If only she had worn the orthopedics and used the crutches at the pageant. They might not have helped her be crowned Miss Prius, but they would certainly bolster the absolute crap defense she and her legal team are planning. Additionally, for the talent portion she could have performed a magic act, with the main illusion being that of making her job disappear. Mighty fine job on that.

If convicted, she could face as much as a year in county jail plus three years of probation. She may also be held responsible for as much as $24,000 in restitution.

Of course, in addition to making her position vanish as part of the talent portion of the pageant competition, she also made her benefits disappear. The real trick will be getting them to reappear. That is always part of the act an illusionist must remember and, as our young beauty may find out, the most difficult to perform.

There is no word on whether she had those orthopedic shoes on for her perp walk. That is another thing that might have bolstered the strategic absolute crap defense.

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About the Author

Bob Wilson is a founding partner, president and CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, based in Sarasota, Fla. He has presented at seminars and conferences on a variety of topics, related to both technology within the workers’ compensation industry and bettering the workers’ comp system through improved employee/employer relations and claims management techniques.

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