Man Given Prison Under New Worker's Comp Fraud Law

A painter from Santa Ana was sentenced Friday to two years in state prison and ordered to pay $16,365 in restitution in the first conviction in Orange County under California's new worker's compensation fraud law.

Gary Wayne Barnette, 42, pleaded guilty in Harbor Municipal Court to one count of filing a false claim, one count of grand theft and two counts of attempted grand theft between September, 1992, and January, 1993.

Barnette filed a claim with Fireman's Fund saying that he had injured his wrist from a fall off a ladder while working as a painter at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach. But an investigation by Newport Beach police, Fireman's Fund and the district attorney determined that the injury actually occurred after work hours when Barnette was involved in an altercation unrelated to his job, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrea Burke.

The new state legislation makes it a crime to file false worker's compensation claims and increased the penalties. Under the new law, the maximum sentence is five years in prison. Barnette must pay the $16,365 restitution to Fireman's Fund, Burke said.

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