An Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputy was arrested on charges for committing insurance fraud by failing to disclose his true physical abilities and activities to his health care providers and lying under oath.
Nicholas Zappas, 36, who lives in Laguna Niguel, is charged with 11 felony counts of insurance fraud and seven felony counts of perjury under oath. If convicted, Zappas faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison. The defendant was arrested by Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Investigators, and his arraignment date and time is yet to be determined.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Zappas was employed as an Orange County Sheriffs Department deputy for approximately 14 years.
On April 2, 2015, while working Harbor Patrol and engaged in a boat rescue, Zappas claimed he tripped over a fire hose falling on his back. He filed a workers’ compensation insurance claim for injuries to his left shoulder, left side of his neck, and lower back. He was placed on work restrictions of no lifting, pushing or pulling of greater than 10 pounds by a medical doctor due to his complaint of pain. The OCSD accommodated the work restrictions and Zappas was assigned to dispatch.
However, between May 2015 and November 2015,Zappas is accused of engaging in CrossFit, which is a high-impact exercise with varied functional movements. He allegedly lifted substantial weights in excess of 200 pounds, doing box jumps, burpees, squats, and other activities that were contrary to the limitations imposed by the doctor based on his description of his pain, symptoms and limitations. Zappas appeared on video while engaging in CrossFit. Thus he is accused of failing to disclose that he was participating in CrossFit to his medical physicians.
In May 2015, the County discovered that Zappas was engaging in CrossFit, and it was reported to OCDA Bureau of Investigations, who investigated this case.
On Dec. 1, 2015, while under oath during his deposition, Zappas allegedly denied lifting anything over 20 pounds since the date of his injury and claimed that he could not lift anything heavy, could not do squats, and could not run.
Between January 2016 and May 2016, Zappas is accused of continuing to engage in CrossFit and not disclosing his abilities to his medical physicians.
Deputy District Attorney Pamela Leitao of the Insurance Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.