In the “you can’t make this crap up” department, we heard the story last week of a beauty pageant contestant in California who has been arrested and charged with workers’ compensation fraud after it was discovered she participated in two beauty pageants while collecting workers’ comp for an injury that prevented her from performing her job. The 22 year old woman was arrested just over a week ago and charged with 3 felony counts of defrauding an insurance company. She is apparently out of jail on $5,000 bail.
Her family is vehemently denying the allegations, with her father quoted as saying of the charges, “All we’re going to say is it is absolute crap”.
While the absolute crap defense has been tried with limited success in previous fraud cases, it remains to be seen how effective it will be for this particular case.
This young “beauty queen to be” had worked for Stater Brothers market as a clerk, where she had filed a claim saying she had broken her toe on the job. She maintained that the injury was too painful to allow her to return to work, and that wearing shoes for any length of time (coincidentally like a work shift) was not possible with the injury. Her physician provided her with orthopedic shoes and crutches to use until her injury healed.
Investigators allege they found video (available here) and images on her social media sites showing she participated in two pageants during this same period, and did so wearing and walking in high heels. The pageant where the video was shot was the Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant.
Not so surprisingly, Stater says she is no longer employed by them.
If only she had worn the orthopedics and used the crutches. It might not have helped her be crowned Miss Prius, but it would certainly bolster the absolute crap defense she and her legal team are planning. Additionally, for the talent portion she could have performed a magic act, with the main illusion being that of making her job disappear.
Mighty fine job on that.
If convicted, she could face up to one year in county jail plus 3 years of probation. She may also be held responsible for up to $24,000 in restitution.
Of course, in addition to making her position vanish as part of the talent portion of the pageant competition, she also made her benefits disappear. The real trick, however, will be getting them to reappear. That is always part of the act an illusionist must remember, and as our young beauty may find out, the most difficult segment to perform.
The courts will ultimately decide the merits of the case against her. Meanwhile there is no word on whether she had those orthopedic shoes on for her perp walk. That is another thing that might have bolstered the strategic absolute crap defense.