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Former postal worker charged with fraud

POSTED April 1, 2011 9:15 p.m.

A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against a Turlock woman suspected of committing multiple acts of mail and workers’ compensation fraud while employed as a postal worker, according to the Department of Justice.

Karina S. Beard, 44, was arrested Friday on 30 counts of mail fraud and two counts of federal workers’ compensation fraud.

The indictment alleges that from October 2006 through January 2009, Beard received federal workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury she sustained in 2000 while working for the Postal Service.

Because of her claimed injuries, restrictions were placed on Beard’s physical activities. Over a period of time, as alleged in the indictment, Beard performed various physical tasks, such as horseback riding, using the purportedly injured part of her body, according to the Department of Justice. Because of claims provided in Beard’s questionnaire, she continued to receive workers’ compensation benefits, all while not entitled to such benefits, said DOJ spokesperson Lauren Horwood.

At least once a year, the United States Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs sends a questionnaire to every claimant who receives total disability benefits to ascertain whether the claimant has had any employment, earnings or changes in their medical condition over the previous 15 months. Claimants reporting changes may experience a reduction or termination of benefits.

Beard can be charged with mail fraud, because according to the federal statute, mail fraud can be charged when the postal system is used to carry out suspected criminal offenses.

“The U.S. Postal employees who seek to abuse the workers’ compensation program will be relentlessly pursued by USPS OIG Special Agents,” said Nichole Cooper, special agent in charge, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

If convicted, Beard faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail fraud. For each count of federal workers’ compensation fraud, the maximum statutory penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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

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