By Cathy Locke
A Yolo County jury on Wednesday convicted a West Sacramento resident and 25-year employee of The Sacramento Bee of workers’ compensation insurance fraud.
Linda Vela, 58, was convicted of seven counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud, three counts of presenting false statements concerning payment from an insurance policy and two counts of attempted perjury in connection with disability claims made between March 2005 and February 2007, according to a Yolo County District Attorney’s Office news release.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case and that justice has prevailed,” said Pam Dinsmore, The Bee’s community affairs director. “We have been working tirelessly with the Yolo County district attorney to bring resolution to this case.”
In August 2003, Vela, who was employed in The Bee’s finance department, went out on disability and was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.
She had surgery on her right wrist in June 2004. She complained that she was still in pain after the surgery and that she could not go back to work despite the surgeon’s recommendation that she return to work.
Because of Vela’s complaints of pain and her reported inability to use her hands, her physician kept her off work as “totally disabled.”
As a result, she received workers’ compensation benefits from The McClatchy Co., parent company of The Sacramento Bee, as well as payment through Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
Vela was caught on video doing many of the things that she told doctors she could not do, according to the news release.
An orthopedic surgeon who viewed the surveillance video testified that she could return to work with the restriction that she “avoid power gripping and torquing.”
Vela is to be sentenced March 23 by Yolo Superior Court Judge Stephen L. Mock.