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Judge delivers prison sentence for Turlock postal worker

POSTED January 13, 2012 9:05 p.m.

A former postal worker, who claimed to have suffered a debilitating injury while on the job, was sentenced to prison Monday on multiple convictions of workers’ compensation and mail fraud, the Department of Justice reported.

Karina S. Beard, 44, of Turlock was previously convicted on four counts of mail fraud and two counts of federal workers’ compensation fraud. She was sentenced to one year in prison, which will be followed by three years of supervised release, said DOJ spokesperson Lauren Horwood. Beard was also ordered to pay $81,694 in restitution.

Beard was ordered to begin serving her sentence on Feb. 16.

According to court documents, Beard worked as a distribution and window clerk for the Postal Service in Groveland. From October 2006 through January 2009, Beard received federal workers' compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury. Because of her claimed injuries, restrictions were placed on Beard's physical activities, including prohibitions on reaching, pushing, pulling, and driving for more than 20 minutes.

During this same time period, Horwood said Beard was witnessed horseback riding, caring for horses, yard work, and driving — all using the purportedly injured part of her body.

Over the years Beard routinely filled out Department of Labor questionnaires stating there was no change to her medical conditions, employment, and earnings, according to the court records. Because of her responses to the questions, Beard was receiving workers’ compensation benefits, though she was not entitled to them, Horwood said.

 “Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General will vigorously pursue anyone who commits this offense,” said Special Agent in Charge Nichole Cooper from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. “Today’s sentencing shows that our agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate abuse of the workers’ compensation program and violators will be brought to justice.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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