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An appeals court in California on Friday upheld the insurance fraud conviction of a police officer who filed two similar workers compensation claims in five years, finding a lack of proof of the second injury and that he had been found to have made false statements.
Ryan Patrick Natividad was a police officer in Costa Mesa, California, when he claimed to have slammed his wrist in 2014 while arresting a suspect, according to documents in The People v. Ryan Patrick Natividad, filed in the Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three in Santa Ana, California.
Video footage showed that he had not injured his hand in such a manner and Mr. Natividad was convicted of fraud in a 2017 jury trial held in Orange County Superior Court. On appeal, he claimed in part that some evidence — namely a similar comp claim he filed in 2009, among other pieces of evidence — was inappropriately used against him in the latest claim, according to court documents.
The appeals court unanimously affirmed his conviction, which came with a two-year prison sentence, but ruled that the claim that the court erred in admitting into evidence his 2009 claim was correct and yet “the error was harmless,” the ruling states.
Addressing the appeal, the judges wrote: “Natividad contends the cumulative effect of the errors was prejudicial. As we have either rejected the merits of defendant's claims of error or have found any asserted errors to be nonprejudicial, we reject his contention that the judgment must be reversed due to the cumulative effect of alleged errors.”
“We have watched the surveillance footage of Natividad escorting the Arrestee from his patrol car to inside the jail. Contrary to Natividad's claim, it conclusively established he did not injure his hand in the manner he claimed,” the ruling states.
In the appeal, “Natividad contends the cumulative effect of the errors was prejudicial. As we have either rejected the merits of defendant's claims of error or have found any asserted errors to be nonprejudicial, we reject his contention that the judgment must be reversed due to the cumulative effect of alleged errors,” the ruling states.
Efforts to identify and prosecute provider fraud in the California workers compensation system is likely having an impact in both reducing such payments and lowering their associated costs, according to a new report.