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Case Closed in Hermosa Insurance Investigation

July 19, 1987|KAREN ROEBUCK | Times Staff Writer

No charges will be filed against Hermosa Beach officials, even though several of them falsified health insurance enrollment forms, the district attorney's office announced last week after a 14-month investigation.

The investigation of former Personnel Administrator Carolyn Smith-Brisson on grand theft allegations was among the last to be completed.

Investigations of former Fire Chief Ronald Simmons and former Mayor Jack Wood previously were closed without prosecution.

Wood, Smith-Brisson, Simmons and two other city employees said that a high-level city official knew, and in some cases suggested, that they falsify insurance forms, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Herb Lapin.

Lapin said that the official, who had been under investigation, also would not be charged. He would not name the official or discuss why charges were not filed.

Simmons, however, has repeatedly identified that official as City Manager Gregory T. Meyer.

In June, Simmons filed a $6.2-million lawsuit in Torrance Superior Court against Meyer, the city and civic activist Roger Creighton. The suit alleges they were responsible for insurance fraud and grand theft charges--which were later dismissed--being filed against him last October.

Meyer has denied the allegations. He would not discuss the investigation last week.

Criminal Intent Not Proved

In announcing the close of the investigation of Smith-Brisson, Lapin said no charges will be filed against her because the evidence does not prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

Smith-Brisson's attorney, Harlan Swain, said his client was out of the state and could not be reached for comment. But he said that she told him that Meyer knew that she had falsified her insurance form.

Smith-Brisson, of Redondo Beach, had enrolled James Brisson as her husband in the city's insurance program since 1979, although the couple was not married until February, 1985, Lapin said.

Smith-Brisson paid for Brisson's coverage until May, 1984, when the city took over the payments, Lapin said. He said that Smith-Brisson claims that her superiors knew she was not married to Brisson when she enrolled him in the city's health insurance program as her husband.

Others Falsified Forms

"That seemed to be a practice that was done not only by my client, but by other people at the city," attorney Swain said. He estimated that some employees had been falsifying forms for about 10 years.

Smith-Brisson reimbursed the city $954.94 a couple of months ago for unqualified premiums for Brisson's coverage, Lapin said.

Charges against Simmons were dropped in March, and Lapin said that Simmons would never have been charged had he told the district attorney's office earlier that he falsified the forms at the instruction of another official.

Activist Filed Complaint

The district attorney's investigation began after Creighton sued the city to gain access to its insurance records and then filed a complaint with the district attorney's office regarding discrepancies he found in the files of Smith-Brisson, Simmons and former Mayor Wood.

Wood was not charged, even though he admitted giving fictitious information to enroll his girlfriend on the city's insurance policy as his wife before they were married.

Wood did not make any insurance claims against the policy, but received a reduced rate for his girlfriend's coverage through the city's group plan. He has reimbursed the insurance company the difference between the individual and group rates.

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