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L.A. County probation officer accused of workers' comp fraud

Rochelle Williams is arrested on 27 felony counts of forging documents.

September 05, 2012|By Jason Song and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles County probation officer was arrested Tuesday for allegedly filing nine fraudulent workers' compensation claims over the last three years.

Rochelle Williams of Inglewood, a six-year Probation Department employee who placed youths in foster homes and other facilities, was taken into custody at the agency's Downey headquarters by probation employees and California Department of Insurance investigators.

Williams, 35, is accused in 27 felony counts of forging departmental as well as medical documents, including signatures, to support her claims. Officials did not describe the injury that Williams said she had suffered.

Williams allegedly filed the claims while she continued working so she could be paid both her regular salary and money from the state insurance program.

She has been placed on unpaid administrative leave until the investigation is complete, said Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers.

"I'm not going to pay someone while they're in jail," Powers said.

Probation officers under criminal investigation are not required to receive their pay, union officials said.

Powers said fraud was a concern when he took over the department this year and that several other cases are being investigated.

"I think the department as a whole is fed up with some of the antics," he said.

The department, which has about 6,200 employees, has been under federal oversight for misuse of force and other infractions.

Probation officer union officials said they had long warned the department that workers' compensation cases were not being adequately investigated.

"We hope this is a wake-up call for the county that they should improve their investigative process," they said in a statement.

jason.song@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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