Claims adjusters allegedly scammed county out of $1.5M

LOS ANGELES - Three former employees of Tristar, a third-party administrator of workers' compensation claims for Los Angeles County, and their wives are expected to be in court next week to face fraud charges for allegedly bilking more than $1.5 million from the county.Christian Ramirez, 24, and Hugo Ramirez, 26, are each charged with nine felony counts. The two men are brothers. The charges against them include false and fraudulent claims, claims adjuster fraud, grand theft of personal property, grand theft by embezzlement, public officer embezzling for personal use, false personation and failure to file income tax return. Their father, Javier Ramirez, 51, also a former Tristar employee, is charged with five felony counts. His wife, Maria Ochoa, 47, is charged with six felony counts. The couple resides in Santa Ana. The wives of the two brothers - Sandra Orozco, 24, and Dominique Boudreaux, 25 - are each charged with six counts. Boudreaux appeared in court last Friday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her bail was set at $187,000. The other defendants were arraigned Monday. Fraud investigators from the California Department of Insurance arrested the six defendants on Sept. 29. Tristar Insurance Group is the county's third-party administrator for workers' compensation claims. The Ramirez brothers were employed as claim adjusters and were responsible for administering workers' compensation claims of Los Angeles County employees injured on the job. An investigation conducted by the California Department of Insurance revealed that the brothers allegedly referred transportation and investigative business to four company - Transco Transportation, Universal Transportation Services, Paramount Transportation and Oncall Investigation Services - owned by various family members. The companies would then sub-contract the services to other vendors and allegedly pocket the difference. Javier Ramirez allegedly processed the fraudulent bills. If convicted as charged, the defendants face up to nine years in state prison.

********** Published: October 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 25