Daniel Cory Clapp was a CHP officer at the Chester area substation of the Susanville office, when he was injured on the job. He claimed injuries to his shoulder, head, and knees.
In April 2012, based on a tip, the worker’s compensation fraud unit of the CHP began investigating officer Clapp. The unit conducted surveillance, including on travel, doctor’s visits, shopping, and camping, which included boating, swimming, and chopping wood.
In October 2013, CHP investigators showed the surveillance videos to defendant’s doctor. Based on the videos, the doctor agreed if she had been aware of defendant’s activities, she would have released him to work in April 2012. She also agreed that Clapp’s complaints had been a “gross misrepresentation.”
Clapp pleaded no contest to concealing the true extent of his physical activities and abilities from his employer, the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF).
Consistent with the resolution negotiated by the parties, the trial court granted defendant three years’ probation, and as a condition of probation, ordered him to pay restitution. Following a restitution hearing, defendant was ordered to pay $30,095.68 to SCIF for temporary disability benefits and $81,768.01 to CHP for benefits wrongfully obtained.
He was also ordered to pay $1,350 and $70,159 to SCIF and CHP respectively for investigative costs.
CHP officers logged 1,761 hours investigating defendant and his activities on disability leave. Based on a median wage of $41.27 per hour, CHP sought reimbursement for $70,159 in salary costs to investigate the case. CHP did not seek restitution for gas and vehicle maintenance, lodging and meals for investigators while on assignment, overtime pay for investigators, medical treatment and exams for defendant, or video production.
SCIF investigators spent 59 hours investigating defendant’s claims. At an average salary of $30 per hour, the agency spent approximately $1,770 on wages to investigate this case.
Defendant appeals the restitution award as to investigation costs contending that, as public investigative agencies, neither SCIF nor CHP is entitled to reimbursement for the costs of investigating his claim.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court, and concluded that “as direct victims of defendant’s fraud, both CHP and SCIF are entitled to restitution for investigative costs incurred in an effort to justify discontinuance of payments and recoup money defendant fraudulently obtained” in the published case of People v Clapp.
The Court concluded that a victim’s restitution right is to be broadly and liberally construed.(Nichols, supra, 8 Cal.App.5th at p. 342.) Section 1202.4, subdivision (f) requires victims receive restitution for “for every determined economic loss incurred as the result of the defendant’s criminal conduct” and the term “economic loss” is entitled to broad and expansive interpretation. (Keichler, supra, 129 Cal.App.4th at p. 1046; Johnny M., supra, 100 Cal.App.4th 1128, 1133.)
The “including but not limited” statutory language as it relates to section 1202.4, subdivision (f), allows for restitution for wages beyond those expended in “assisting the police or prosecution” as specified in subdivision (f)(E).
” We believe it is consistent with the restitution statute’s purpose, to fully reimburse direct victims and deter future criminality, to allow government agencies that are direct victims of fraud to receive restitution for their investigative costs, where those costs were incurred in an effort to justify ending payments and recoup wrongfully obtained funds, as well as assist in any prosecution.”