SAN DIEGO – A San Diego woman who disappeared to Mexico after committing insurance fraud then allegedly taunted the San Diego District Attorney through her Twitter account was sentenced Tuesday.
Nearly three years were added to 61-year-old Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski’s more than 20 year sentence she received after being convicted a year ago of insurance and disability fraud.
Podgurski pleaded guilty Nov. 1 to failing to appear in court while on bail.
In January 2013, she was out on $500,000 bail and appeared in court every day for the two month trial, but then was a “no show” on the day the verdict was read.
“She recognized that she was going to be convicted and would be incarcerated for a long period of time,” said Deputy Public Defender Selena Epley.
While on the lam for several months last year, prosecutors thought the defendant had taunted District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis on Twitter posting “Catch me if you can.”
“There is another individual taking credit for that tweet,” said Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson-Taylor. “That’s why we didn’t attempt to proceed with criminal allegations against her.”
Epley told Judge Eugenia Eyherabide that Podgurski had no prior record and lacked the technical skills to post the taunts online.
During Tuesday’s sentencing for failure to appear, Podgurski’s public defender made a plea for less time based on a history of serious medical conditions, including two herniated discs and psychological issues relating to a difficult childhood.
“She has grave concerns about being abandoned, a fear of pain and death – debilitating fear. And she does have a documented medical condition that does cause her pain,” Epley said.
During Podgurski’s fraud case, she was found guilty of 29 counts including faking injuries and collecting more than $650,000 which made her public defender’s plea for leniency questionable.
Thompson-Taylor told the judge that the two-year, eight-month consecutive sentence was warranted.
She was later arrested in Rosarito and returned to San Diego in July.