A Santa Clara County correctional deputy was arrested Friday in San Jose and charged with workers’ compensation fraud according to officials from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the county jails.
An arrest warrant was executed for Santa Clara County Correctional Deputy Mark Navarrete, who is accused of workers’ compensation fraud and allegedly violating California Penal Code 550(a)(1) and Insurance Code 1871.4 (a)(1) and (2). Both are felonies. Navarrete sustained an off-duty injury playing softball but officials allege he fraudulently filed claims that his injury occurred in the workplace while on duty. Officials say Navarette has been on paid administrative leave since September 17. He was a member of the sheriff’s office for more than 10 years, Navarette was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail.
The arrest was part of a widening array of internal investigations magnified by the beating death of a mentally ill inmate. The Navarrete case predates the investigation into the deadly Aug. 26 beating of Michael Tyree at the Main Jail, which spurred murder charges against three other correctional deputies and prompted elected officials to promise a host of reforms of the county’s jail facilities, with pointed attention at misconduct by jail staffers.
To date, five correctional deputies — including the three in the Tyree case –have been arrested, and three more are on leave in connection with criminal investigations launched by the Sheriff’s Office based on alleged misconduct. All eight officers — including the local correctional officers’ union president — are on paid administrative leave. More arrests could follow: Smith said this week that detectives are reviewing more than 100 complaints — for use of force or otherwise — filed since Tyree died.
Because of uncertainty about who might get caught in what officials admit is a wide investigatory net, the agency has taken several extraordinary steps that include moving key investigators out of the sheriff’s headquarters to an off-site location to physically restrict access to sensitive intelligence.