BofA Fake-Bomb Banker Charged With Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Aug 12, 2014 8:00 am ET

Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A woman convicted of taking part in a 2012 bank robbery in East Los Angeles faces further charges of filing a fake workers’ compensation claim after saying the incident left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Aurora Barrera, 33, of Downey, California, helped plan the theft at a Bank of America Corp. branch where she was an assistant manager, the California Department of Insurance said yesterday in a statement. She was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for the crime this week and charged with insurance fraud after collecting $45,537 in disability benefits and medical expenses tied to the incident.

“It’s shocking to think that Barrera, a trusted financial- institution manager, would be a co-conspirator in a bank robbery and staged kidnapping, and then have the audacity to file a bogus workers’ comp claim for traumatic stress and believe she could get away with it,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in the statement.

Barrera said that two men held her hostage and forced her to wear a bomb for the robbery in September 2012. She said they made her remove money from the bank vault and place it outside the building, according to yesterday’s statement. Authorities later determined the bomb was fake.

Anthony Eaglin, an attorney who represented Barrera in the robbery case, didn’t return a call seeking comment. Bill Halldin, a Bank of America spokesman, declined to comment.

Barrera collected about $2,453 a month on the bank’s insurance policy, which was purchased through Gallagher Bassett, a subsidiary of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., said Patrick Storm, a spokesman for the insurance department. That was to pay for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The state agency said she also collected $9,964 for medical and other expenses.

Barrera is charged with two counts of insurance fraud, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. She faces as much as five years in prison if convicted.

More than $565,000 was taken in the robbery, and $400,000 hasn’t been recovered, the California insurance department said.