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Ex-Amtrak clerk gets 20 years in $650,000 disability fraud

A former Amtrak clerk convicted of receiving more than $650,000 in disability and insurance payments after faking injuries was sentenced Friday in San Diego County Superior Court to 20 years in prison.

Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, had been a fugitive since being convicted in January of 29 felony counts of insurance fraud, tax evasion, perjury and grand theft from the Amtrak Railroad Retirement Board and private insurance companies.

Podgurski had been free on $500,000 bail during the two-month trial. Her last known address was in Manhattan Beach.

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Podgurski said that she slipped and fell at her home in 2006 and said she was so severely disabled that she needed an in-home caregiver.

But during a time when she was allegedly disabled, Podgurski traveled to the Dominican Republic, New York, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and other destinations, prosecutors said. Among her trips was a 16-day tour to China in 2008 with a boyfriend, prosecutors said.

Podgurski collected payments from seven insurance companies and a government agency.

“This was an extreme case, but any level of disability fraud ultimately increases insurance costs for everyone,” said Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis.

Anyone with information about Podgurski’s whereabouts is asked to call the U.S. Marshals Service at (619) 557-6620.

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tony.perry@latimes.com


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