Esther Kang

Manhattan Beach woman convicted of insurance fraud sought by feds

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wanda podgurski

U.S. Marshals are searching for Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, of Manhattan Beach. Photo provided by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

A Manhattan Beach woman convicted of insurance fraud is on the run after failing to appear in San Diego County court Thursday for her verdict, according to prosecutors.

Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, was convicted of 29 felony counts, including insurance fraud, perjury, grand theft from Amtrak Railroad Retirement Board and tax evasion after a two-month jury trial. Charges also included white collar enhancements involving taking more than $500,000.

Upon Podgursky’s no-show Thursday, the judge revoked her $500,000 bond and issued a no-bail bench warrant. The U.S. Marshals are now searching for the woman, who faces 33 years in prison.

In August of 2006, Podgurski, a former Amtrak employee, claimed that a slip-and-fall in her home left her so severely disabled that she required an in-home caregiver for everyday assistance.

Investigations revealed that during the time she was allegedly disabled, Podgurski took vacations including a 16-day tour to China with her boyfriend, as well as trips to the Dominican Republic, New York, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, according to San Diego County prosecutors.

According to a 2010 report from the California Department of Insurance, Podgurski, between 2004 and 2006, purchased long-term care insurance policies from Prudential Group Insurance, Kanawha Insurance Company, Unum Life Insurance Company and Metropolitan Insurance Company.

She also had disability income policies with Balboa Insurance Group and Reassure America Life Insurance Company, according to the report. Upon her August 2006 claim of injury, she allegedly filed claims with all six insurance companies for benefits, and also filed a disability claim with Amtrak, her employer at the time. She allegedly also filed fraudulent claims for benefits with the United States Railroad Retirement Board.

Between 2006 and 2009, Podgurski received $626,395.15 in disability and long-term care benefits, according to the report.

Insurance fraud costs U.S. consumers more than $80 billion a year, according to San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Anyone with information of her whereabouts is encouraged to call the U.S. Marshal Service at 619-557-6620.

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