California Department of Insurance Detectives made the arrest and were assisted by the Huntington Park Police Department, which brought the felony charges against Barajas.
The California Department of Insurance had been contacted by New York Life in January 2013, informing them that Barajas’ husband had died but that she had continued to collect his workers’ compensation settlement benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board had decided in September 2000 that Jesus Barajas would receive monthly benefits of $18,000 while he was alive. But Rosa Maria Barajas continued collecting the benefits after he had died. She was supposed to notify the New York Life, however, when or if her husband passed away, and she failed to do this when Jesus Barajas passed away in May 2010.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said “Workers’ compensation fraud is a drain on California’s economy and can increase the cost of doing business, result in a decrease in employee salaries, and increase the cost of insurance for all Californians. Employees need to know that their family will receive compensation if they are injured at work, but their families must also be honest with insurers if they are no longer entitled to receive settlement payments for a deceased family member.”
The situation originated when Jesus suffered an accident while he was working for Aramark Uniform Services in October 1997. The industrial accident left Jesus seriously injured. He ended up comatose and was declared to be legally brain dead. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board made the decision that Rosa Maria was to be appointed as her husband’s legal guardian the following April. She was charged with handling her husband’s pending workers’ compensation suit and his finances.
Barajas is being held on bail which has been set at $505,341. She could face up to five years in prison if convicted and could have to pay fines of upwards of $500,000.
Fraud is not as common as people think, but it can still make it more difficult for workers’ who really have been seriously injured in a workplace injury to get the full compensation that they are entitled to. If you have been injured in a workers’ compensation accident or if a loved one has died in a workplace accident, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for legal advice.n.