SANTA ANA (CNS) – An Orange County workers’ compensation plaintiff was sentenced to four years in state prison and ordered to pay more than $700,000 in restitution to seventeen insurance for participating in two separate insurance fraud referral programs.
Jon Woods, 61, of Cypress, was convicted in August of 37 counts of insurance fraud as well as an enhanced sentence for aggravated white-collar felony, the prosecutor’s office said Friday. of Orange County.
District Attorney Todd Spitzer said his office is “committed to ensuring a level playing field for business owners and insurance companies. By prosecuting bad actors and recovering fraudulently paid funds, we help business owners stay competitive and protect consumers from rising premiums.
Woods was one of 10 like-minded lawyers charged in June 2017 following a complex insurance fraud investigation. Charges have also been brought against Carlos Arguello, Fermin Iglesias and Edgar Gonzalez, as well as four chiropractors and several employees working for Arguello.
Arguello, his employees, and Iglesias all pleaded guilty in their cases in Orange County Superior Court. Arguello and Iglesias were also charged in federal court with violating federal laws relating to their program with medical providers, resulting in a four-year federal sentence for Arguello and a five-year federal prison sentence for Iglesias, according to Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said that from 2011 to 2016, Woods paid Arguello for workers’ compensation clients purchased through Arguello’s lawyers’ marketing business, Centro Legal International, and later Tu Justicia Legal, as well as Centro de Abogados.
Primarily targeting Hispanic neighborhoods in the state, Arguello’s company distributed more than four million flyers a month to attract potential customers for Arguello’s program. The flyers contained various toll-free numbers that all rang to a call center in Tijuana, Mexico, where operators acted as a sales force, dispatching an “enrollment” representative from Arguello’s network to the company’s home. calling within 24-48 hours to sign legal documents to engage the law firm and begin the injury claim.
In addition to paying a monthly fee to obtain clients, Woods also sent subpoenas to companies controlled and operated by Arguello, for an amount equal to the number of clients he received from Arguello, have prosecutors said. These companies billed the worker’s employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy for all subpoena services provided for Woods, as the law requires the cost of an injured worker proving his claim for workers’ compensation is paid by the employer’s workers. compensation insurance — including the cost of obtaining records through subpoenas ordered by the injured worker’s attorney.
Arguello’s program required that all clients purchased through Arguello’s marketing be sent to clinics chosen by his organization, prosecutors said. Like the lawyers participating in his program, a group of doctors or chiropractors were also paying Arguello for workers’ compensation patients, they added.
Woods was also convicted of participating in a second fraud scheme in which he returned additional subpoena work to USA Photocopy, a subpoena company owned by Edgar Gonzalez. Gonzalez paid various business expenses for Woods’ law firm as a bribe to receive subpoena work for the firm’s records, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The subpoena companies of Arguello and Gonzalez’s records had offshore offices in El Salvador, where employees reviewed subpoena records to identify more companies they can serve with more subpoenas in El Salvador. Woods name. These companies billed workers’ compensation insurance companies for each subpoena.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Noor Hasan of the Insurance Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.