Former postal worker faces fraud charges
A former U.S. Postal Service employee in Mesa County pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 19 counts brought against her by a federal grand jury indictment, which accused her of falsifying medical information about workplace injuries while collecting more than $40,000 in workers’ compensation.
Montrose resident Claudia Raddatz, a 30-year veteran of the Postal Service, faces 17 counts of fraud by wire and another two counts of making false statements or committing fraud to obtain federal employees’ compensation, according to the filing.
If convicted she could be fined up to $250,000 and serve a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years for the wire fraud charges. Additionally, she could face another $250,000 fine and up to a five-year sentence for the two charges of false statement or fraud to obtain federal employees’ compensation, the filing says.
A jury trial is tentatively scheduled to begin May 6, although U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher Tuesday said it will probably be postponed. The trial will be heard by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marcia Krieger.
The indictment claims that Raddatz, who is represented by Grand Junction-based attorney Stephen Laiche, was seen working out at a Gold’s Gym during the 14-month period that she was receiving disability checks.
Raddatz, who started working for the Postal Service in 1984, was granted workers’ compensation for a rotator cuff surgery she underwent in 2007, according to the indictment. She was assigned to “light duty” work between 2008 and early 2014 after the injury, but stopped working in January 2014. She was considered temporarily totally disabled between February 2014 and April 2015, the filing said.
The indictment accuses Raddatz of lying to her doctors about her physical condition, and states that she turned down two offers of modified work assignments that could have allowed her to continue working.
Raddatz allegedly refused the positions, saying they would go against her doctors’ orders.
“It was further part of the scheme that (she) sought and received benefits for total disability, when defendant was actively participating in physical activities, including but not limited to vigorous physical exercise at Gold’s Gym including treadmill machine activity, rowing machine activity, stationary bicycle riding, use of cable machines for weightlifting, and use of rotary torso twist machines,” the filing says.
Raddatz collected a gross amount of $41,814 in wage-loss compensation over 14 months, the indictment says.
In a separate case, another former Postal Service worker, Collbran resident Cindy Guerrieri, pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of impeding the mail. Guerrieri was originally indicted by a federal grand jury Dec. 17 on charges of embezzlement and theft of mail matter in connection with the theft of a $40 MasterCard gift card and another $40 in cash. The card and cash were reportedly taken from two separate letters last fall.
Gallagher, who also presided over Guerrieri’s case, sentenced her to five days in federal prison, Hautzinger said.