A retired Los Angeles police officer was arrested Thursday for allegedly committing workers’ compensation fraud while enrolled in a deferred retirement plan that was the focus of a recent expose which found widespread fraud and abuse.
Speaking at a news conference at LAPD headquarters, Chief Charlie Beck announced that Terry Johns was arrested by the department’s Special Operations Division, Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit.
“Officer Johns deprived the city of over $200,000 and is being held on $160,000 bail,” Beck alleged.
A recent Los Angeles Times investigation found that from July 2008 to July 2017, more than one-third of police officers and 70 percent of Los Angeles Fire Department employees who entered the Deferred Retirement Option Plan program went out on injury leave.
The DROP program allows employees of the LAPD and LAFD who enter the program near the end of their careers to collect their pensions for five years while also collecting their paychecks — but the payments keep coming even if the worker is sidelined due to injury or illness.
The newspaper also found that workers taking disability leave while in DROP missed a combined 2.4 million hours of work for leaves and sick time and were paid more than $220 million for the time off.
Beck said Johns was viewed by members of the Special Operations Division “in activity that was inconsistent with his workers’ comp claim.”
Last month, City Councilman Mitchell Englander called for an investigation into the DROP program and introduced a motion that would direct the chief legislative analyst to report on workers’ compensation issues connected to the DROP program and the plan’s current status.
“It is critical that the city investigate these allegations and take steps to prevent abuses as it pertains to the DROP program,” Englander’s motion says.
Johns retired in 2016 after 32 years with the LAPD, and was arrested in the riverside County community of Eastvale.
The LAPD said it conducted an investigation that stemmed from a medical claim filed by Johns in 2014, while he was still an active member of the LAPD, and alleged that he received benefits to which he was not entitled, including benefits as part of the DROP program.