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OFF BEAT: Gardener digs himself into a hole over workers comp claims


A California gardener found himself in deep dirt last week after being charged with workers compensation fraud for allegedly lying about his recovery from a work injury.

Jose Cortez was injured in 2010 when a tree branch fell and landed on him at work, according to a statement from the district attorney's office for San Bernardino County, Calif. Mr. Cortez reportedly received workers comp for his injuries and was placed on minor work restrictions.

The district attorney's office said it began investigating Mr. Cortez's comp case in 2012 after private insurance investigators found Mr. Cortez working several times in 2011.

Both investigations reportedly showed Mr. Cortez performing a full range of gardening work without any pain or discomfort, despite claiming in workers comp proceedings that his 2010 injury left him unable to perform his job.

Mr. Cortez was arrested and charged with workers comp fraud and perjury on Jan. 7, according to the district attorney's office. He has pleaded not guilty in the case, and faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

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