BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Lamont nursery worker has pleaded not guilty to 11 felonies that were filed after investigators say he misrepresented an injury to receive undeserved workers’ compensation benefits.
Fernando Torres Garcia, 46, is charged with multiple counts of workers’ compensation fraud and presenting false documentation for compensation. His next court hearing is set for Nov. 19.
Garcia’s distortion of the truth caused deposition and surveillance expenses totaling $5,873.50, according to the state Department of Insurance.
On July 16, 2018, Garcia told his employer he injured his lower back and hip after slipping while working in a trench to repair a water line, the department said in a release. He was diagnosed with a lumbar strain and placed on modified duty.
Garcia continued to see a doctor and said his injury wasn’t improving. He amended his original workers’ compensation claim to include injuries to his entire back and multiple other areas.
Surveillance conducted on Garcia showed he was able to lift heavy objects multiple times despite claiming his injury wasn’t getting better, according to the release.
About a year after he injured himself, Garcia underwent a Panel Qualified Medical Evaluation where an evaluator reviewed his medical reports, physical examination and abilities and the surveillance footage. The evaluator determined Garcia didn’t meet the requirement for any permanent disability or ratable impairment, and that he misrepresented his complaints, according to the release.