Cam Williams, ILWU Coast Committeeman, stated on Monday that the benefits in question “offset the grueling work that longshore workers perform daily on the docks, and they are vitally crucial to tens of thousands of port employees in California, Oregon, and Washington.” Officers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union take fraudulent actions against the plan seriously and seek to eradicate them.
Over half a million dollars was paid out by the union’s insurance plan as a result of fraudulent claims submitted by 46-year-old Sara Victoria, the suspected ringleader of the scheme who managed three wellness and chiropractic clinics in the harbor region from 2017 to 2020.
Prosecutors claim Victoria revealed in a plea agreement that she hired women from local strip clubs to work at sexual services clinics. According to prosecutors, Victoria knew dockworkers had insurance through the International Longshore and Warehouse Union–Pacific Maritime Association plan that generally had no deductible, copay, or other out-of-pocket expenses for chiropractic services, so she recruited them to submit fraudulent claims.
“In exchange for obtaining sexual services for themselves and their friends, ILWU-PMA plan members authorized Victoria to submit false claims for reimbursement for services not actually rendered, including chiropractic and physical therapy, using their names or the names of their family members, including their spouses and children,” according to a statement released by prosecutors.
In addition, according to prosecutors, Victoria admitted in a plea agreement to paying ILWU-PMA plan members cash kickbacks in exchange for permission to submit false claims for reimbursement of services not actually rendered and to using the identity of another person without their consent during the commission of the health care fraud conspiracy.
Frank Ponce De Leon, ILWU Coast Committeeman, criticized any fraudulent exploitation of the union’s health insurance plan, which he said has been in the works for years and protects 17,000 port workers.
Ponce de Leon stated, “Our union is proud to have negotiated health benefits with our employer that we believe all Americans should have.” “We will not tolerate the fraudulent use of the benefits in our contract that longshore workers have battled and killed for over the past nine decades.”
Long Beach dockworkers used their health insurance to pay for ‘sexual services,’ feds say