By Raul Hernandez
A judge today postponed a decision on whether a Camarillo woman who pleaded guilty to insurance fraud should get jail time along with probation because he has to determine how much in restitution she owes to the insurance company.
Mona Alberti, 52, claimed she suffered a back injury in 1997 after she bent down and picked up a pencil during a training session for her job with an insurance company , said prosecutor Gilbert Romero.
Romero told Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell that Alberti should pay $356,000 for more than a decade of insurance payments for such things as doctors, limousine service and medication.
In April, Alberti pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and is facing up to a year in jail after she is examined to find out the extent of her disability.
The judge said he will determine how much jail time, if any, Alberti should get based amount of fraud she committed. Meanwhile, the judge put Alberti on probation.
Alberti is scheduled to return to court in March.
State workers compensation workers have filed a civil lawsuit to collect some of the payments made to Alberti, a case that is pending, according to Romero.
Alberti's lawyer Brett Greenfield of Encino told the judge that his client is penniless.
"This is a woman who is broke," he said, adding that she has three children who attend college and a husband with three jobs.
Greenfield said Alberti has had surgery and takes "medication beyond belief that you can almost drug an elephant with."
Romero said in an interview that the insurance company paid for limousine service so Alberti could go to the doctors because she said she couldn't drive. He said Alberti went to doctor's appointment using a walker and later that day, she is caught on video shopping at the mall, holding bags and driving away.
Outside the courtroom, Greenfield said his client still has a 48 percent disability rating and that was lowered from 100 percent after the video recording.
Greenfield called the state's workers compensation "flawed," saying that there are a lot of people who are disabled like his client who has "multi-faceted" impairments.
"In her case, very frustrated by seeing 50 to 60 to 70 doctors over a period of 13 years," said Greenfield. "These doctors flagged physical and psychological issues."
He said he explained the secret video recording as an attempt to "embellish" her injury and a cry for help to get a doctor to pinpoint her disability.
"In her mind, she was trying to cry out because she didn't feel anybody was recognizing what was wrong," said Greenfield. "You can explain it to a jury but it is the same result that we have here today. Ms. Alberti is not backing away from the fact that she embellished."