Wheels on the Bus

Delivery man driving van with packages on the front seat. Happy mature courier in truck. Portrait of confident express courier driving his delivery van.

School bus drivers have a lot of responsibility. They are tasked with transporting precious cargo from home to school, as well as to and from other educational and athletic activities. Today, we examine the case of a full-time school bus driver from the Cabrillo Unified School District in Half Moon Bay, California, who used his position to irresponsibly carry out a workers’ compensation fraud scheme. He fraudulently collected $60,000 in workers’ compensation benefits he did not deserve.

The 60-year-old bus driver claimed that he incurred a right eye injury after a co-worker blasted him with a high-pressure water hose. (Ouch! Can’t even imagine that.) Supposedly, that unfortunate event caused the bus driver to have headaches, pain and blurry vision and he claimed he was unable to drive. The injured bus driver qualified for and began to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Apparently, there was something about the claim that was not quite right. The claims examiner referred the bus driver’s claim to the school district’s administrator to open an investigation into multiple conflicting medical reports and statements by the beneficiary. (While the bus driver indicated that he had terrible migraines and double vision, the medical tests indicated otherwise.) The next step was to conduct a surveillance investigation. (You’ll never guess what was discovered.)

The injured bus driver was spotted shooting a weapon at long distances while looking through a scope. He apparently had good aim and good vision, hitting his targets. He was also observed driving without any problems. (Here’s where things get a little weird.) The bus driver discovered he was being watched, so he ran into his house, grabbed a rifle case and pointed it at the investigator. (Is this the kind of guy you’d want driving your kids around?) The bus driver then jumped in his car to follow the investigator. (This is after the man had lied under oath about his ability to operate a vehicle and shoot a weapon.) 

Well, that’s all the evidence the California Department of Insurance needed. The former bus driver was found guilty of workers’ compensation fraud. A San Mateo County judge sentenced him to 60 days in county jail. He must also pay $60,000 to the school district for the temporary disability payments and medical benefits he illegally collected.

Characteristics that make a good school bus driver include a love for children, good driving skills, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. The full-time school bus driver from the Cabrillo Unified School District in Half Moon Bay, California caved under pressure when his workers’ compensation fraud scheme was detected. (It looks like the wheels on this man’s school bus won’t be going round and round any more after being dropped off at the county lock-up.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Judge convicts bus driver for falsely obtaining workers’ comp benefits,” posted on propertycasualty360.com on August 8, 2019.

Rick Rossi, 60, a full-time school bus driver employed with Cabrillo Unified School District, was convicted of two felony counts of insurance fraud and sentenced to three years of felony probation. He was convicted of one count of workers’ compensation insurance fraud and a second count for auto insurance fraud.

A San Mateo County judge found him guilty of making false and fraudulent material statements for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. Rossi was ordered 60 days in county jail to start no later than Sept. 14, 2019, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $60,000 to his employer for temporary disability payments and medical benefits.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.