California Couple Sentenced for Workers’ Comp Insurance Fraud

August 8, 2006

Robert and Rosemary Bunch, both 56, have been sentenced in California on workers’ compensation insurance fraud convictions. The couple from Roasamond pled guilty prior to a jury trial.

The Bunches were sentenced on July 28 in Kern County Superior Court. Each must serve 31 days in the County Jail. Mr. Bunch was ordered to pay $58,000 and Mrs. Bunch was ordered to pay $48,000 in restitution. Both also must pay additional criminal fines of $4,000 each. Mr. Bunch worked as an electrician with National Cement Company in the city of Lebec, and his wife was a clerk at United Methodist Church in Lancaster.

The pleas and sentencing were the result of a joint one-year investigation between the California Department of Insurance’s Fraud Division and the Kern County District Attorney’s office. According to investigators, CNA Insurance – the carrier handling Mr. Bunch’s claim – reported the workers’ comp insurance fraud after receiving information that Robert was videotaped working beyond his reported limitations. The California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) is handling Mrs. Bunch’s claim.

Despite the fact the Bunches reported to doctors that they were unable to return to work, CNA Insurance obtained information proving they both performed physical activities such as yard work and construction. Mr. and Mrs. Bunch had each filed workers’ comp claims with their employers with benefit payments of more than $300,000 and $800,000 respectively.

Videotape was obtained of Mr. Bunch working on top of a large metal building, lifting a ladder and doing yard work with no visible signs of injury. His wife was videotaped at her home doing yard work without the use of a cane or wheelchair; however, she was always either using a cane or in a wheelchair at workers’ comp hearings, doctor visits, or at public shopping malls.

Investigators say Rosemary was provided limousine service for two years as part of her workers’ compensation claim because she reported to her doctor that she could not drive. Limousine driver Peter Babroudi, 27, testified in his deposition regarding Rosemary’s workers’ comp claim that she was so disabled he had to assist her into the limousine. However, videotaped evidence showed Babroudi and Rosemary on different occasions carrying Rosemary’s cane to the limousine while Rosemary walked on her own without assistance.

Babroudi pled guilty in June 2006 to a misdemeanor charge of insurance fraud prior to his preliminary hearing.

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