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OFF BEAT: DA's investigator nailed in workers comp fraud scheme

Posted On: Jan. 22, 2013 12:00 AM CST

The potential wrongdoers that the Fresno County District Attorney's Workers’ Compensation Fraud Division pursues includes doctors, lawyers, employers, insurance company employees and claimants, according to the California county’s website.

The county’s site doesn’t mention that one of the DA’s own investigators also could be a potential workers comp rip-off.

But according to a published report, a Fresno County DA investigator recently was ordered to pay nearly $24,000 in restitution after he pleaded no contest to a charge of grand theft for improperly receiving workers comp benefits.

John Harding Swenning allegedly lied to receive surgery as part of his workers comp benefits, according to the Fresno Bee report. The Fresno paper cited an attorney for Mr. Swenning, who said his client exaggerated symptoms so that he could receive a surgery and return to work.

Mr. Swenning reportedly is eligible to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor after paying the restitution.

“Everyone suffers because of workers compensation fraud,” states the county’s website. “Tax dollars are wasted, the price of consumer goods increases, and employers and legitimately injured workers lose money.”

To that list of losses you can now add a bit of damage to the county DA’s reputation.