SAN DIEGO – A former Amtrak employee convicted of receiving more than $500,000 in disability and insurance payments after faking injuries has fled to avoid prison, San Diego County prosecutors said Thursday.
Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, was not in Superior Court to hear the jury convict her of 29 felony counts involving insurance fraud, tax evasion, perjury, and grand theft from the Amtrak Railroad Retirement Board.
She faces 33 years in prison. Podgurski was free on $500,000 bail during the two-month trial. Her last known address was in Manhattan Beach.
Podgurski said that she slipped and fell at her home in 2006 and said she was so severely disabled that she needed an in-home caregiver.
But during a time when she was allegedly disabled, Podgurski traveled to the Dominican Republic, New York, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and other destinations, prosecutors said. Among her trips was a 16-day tour to China in 2008 with a boyfriend, prosecutors said.
After she did not appear in court, the judge revoked her bail and issued a no-bail bench warrant for her arrest. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the U.S. Marshals Service at 619-557-6620.
“Insurance fraud costs U.S. consumers more than $80 billion a year,” said Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis.
——— Story by Los Angeles Times reporter Tony Perry