April 2, 2013

Former transit operator pleads guilty to insurance fraud

After several continuances, former Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) Coach Operator George Bateman accepted the District Attorney’s plea offer and pleaded guilty to one felony count of insurance fraud. As part of that guilty plea, Bateman will be sentenced to 180 days in county jail and fined $5,000. He also must pay restitution, an amount to be determined when he is sentenced on May 30.

Last March, the Riverside County District Attorney’s office filed a criminal complaint against Bateman and issued an arrest warrant, charging him with one felony count of insurance fraud. He turned himself in two months later and was released after posting $25,000 bail.

RTA relieved Bateman of his driving duties in February of 2012 after he complained about shoulder, neck and back pain. He was ultimately provided temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, which is paid to employees when they are totally off work due to a work-related injury.

Investigators with the DA’s office began investigating the 46-year-old Corona man last May, after receiving allegations of possible insurance fraud.

During the investigation, which combined the efforts of both RTA and the DA’s office, Bateman was observed operating his own limousine service and videotaped driving, handling customer luggage, lifting bags of ice, tire rims and cases of water without any sign of restriction. Employees who are on TTD are required to report any outside income. Bateman did not report any income from his limousine business.

RTA carries workers’ compensation insurance coverage as required by law to protect employees who are injured on the job. Roughly 360 RTA employees are covered by the insurance, which provides for medical treatment and loss of earnings that result from work-related injuries.

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out, "Riverside Transit tests hydraulic hybrid system."

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