Former San Francisco City Employee Charged with Insurance Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2011

CONTACT:
Erica Terry Derryck, DA Gascón, (415) 553-1167
ADA Seth Steward, DA Gascón, (415) 553-1014


SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Gonzalo Fierro, age 44, and Andrew Giovannini, M.D., age 75, have been charged with insurance fraud.

“Anyone who lies to defraud is committing a crime,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “But the conduct alleged in this case is particularly egregious because it involves conspiracy and an abuse of the public trust and public funds. I want to thank the Department of Human Resources for bringing this case to our attention.”

Following their arrests on January 25, 2011, the defendants appeared in Department 12 of San Francisco Superior Court before the Honorable Jeffrey Ross on January 26, 2011. Bail was set at $100,000. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, January 28, 2011.

Fierro is charged with nine felonies; including: one count in violation of Penal Code §182 conspiracy to defraud the City and County of San Francisco, California State Automobile Association (CSAA) and Minnesota Life Insurance Co., six counts in violation of Insurance Code §1871.4 workers’ compensation insurance fraud, one count in violation of Penal Code §550 insurance fraud and one count in violation of Penal Code §487 grand theft.

Giovannini is charged with nine felonies; including: one count in violation of Penal Code §182 conspiracy to defraud the City and County of San Francisco, CSAA and Minnesota Life Insurance Co., two counts in violation of Insurance Code §1871.4 workers’ compensation insurance fraud, four counts in violation of Penal Code §550 insurance fraud, one count in violation of Penal Code §118 perjury and one count in violation of Penal Code §487 grand theft.

“At a time when our City is working to deliver vital services with limited resources, we must have zero tolerance when it comes to fraud and abuse of tax dollars and our workers compensation system,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “I am grateful to the Department of Human Resources and the District Attorney for detecting these crimes and holding these individuals accountable.”

According to court documents, Fierro, who worked for the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department as a juvenile counselor, and Giovannini, his physician, committed insurance fraud by submitting numerous false workers’ compensation insurance reports to the City and County of San Francisco, and non-industrial insurance reports to CSAA and Minnesota Life Insurance companies which resulted in fraudulent payments of benefits in excess of $200,000.

From 2000 through 2005 Fierro made four separate workers’ compensation claims and numerous motor vehicle accident insurance claims. Fierro failed to inform the City and County of San Francisco of the motor vehicle accident claims and did not tell CSAA nor Minnesota Life about his pre-existing claims. Fierro also did not tell his other doctors about his prior work and motor vehicle injuries and in some cases denied any prior injuries to the same body part.

Giovannini was Fierro’s treating doctor for his four workers’ compensation claims beginning in November 2002. While these workers’ compensation claims were open Giovannini also treated Fierro for multiple motor vehicle accidents. Giovannini was aware of both the motor vehicle accidents and the four workers’ compensation injuries but failed to notify any of the insurers of all alleged injuries and treatment, and in some instances denied Fierro had any prior similar injuries or treatment. Giovannini was obligated to provide complete and accurate medical information to the insurers yet he failed to do so. Giovannini participated in providing material false representations to the insurance carriers.

The charges in this case carry a potential maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison for Gonzalo Fierro and 15 years in state prison for Andrew Giovannini, plus payment of restitution.

This case was presented to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for review by the San Francisco Department of Human Resources, Workers' Compensation Divisions Special Investigation Unit. The suspects’ arrest is the result of an investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office’s Bureau of Investigations. Assistant District Attorney Sharon Bacon is prosecuting the case.