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Ventura County Focus | West County / OXNARD

Man Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

July 23, 1998|TRACY WILSON

A 39-year-old man has pleaded guilty to charges of workers' compensation insurance fraud and perjury in connection with an alleged conspiracy between his employer and an Encino-based chiropractor.

Wilbur D. Mace of Northridge changed his plea from not guilty to guilty Tuesday. He faces up to five years in state prison and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 14 in Ventura County Superior Court.

According to prosecutors, Mace was injured on the job in September 1996 while working for A-1 California Spa Service, a Van Nuys-based company that has since closed.

At the time of Mace's injury, business owner Paul Minor did not have workers' compensation insurance coverage for his employees, prosecutors said. Minor later purchased a policy from the State Compensation Insurance Fund, which went into effect Oct. 16, 1996.

Afterward, Minor, Mace and his treating chiropractor, Jason Meyer, allegedly conspired to defraud the fund by misrepresenting the date of Mace's workplace injury, prosecutors said.

Medical records sent to the state insurance fund's regional office in Oxnard as part of Mace's claim for benefits indicated his injury occurred on Oct. 19, 1996, prosecutors said.

Insurance fund officials later learned of an alleged conspiracy after receiving an anonymous tip on their fraud hotline.

The case was given to the Ventura County district attorney's office because the claim was processed through the fund's regional office in Oxnard.

On June 18, prosecutors filed criminal charges against Mace, Minor and Meyers, accusing the trio of multiple counts of workers' compensation insurance fraud and conspiracy. Perjury charges were also filed against Mace and his doctor.

All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges during a June 30 arraignment. Mace is the only one to change his plea.

"It is an important case," Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Johnson said. "It is very hard to uncover these conspiracies."

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