A beauty contestant from Riverside, California, has been arrested for workers’ compensation fraud after authorities discovered her featured in an online video competing in high heels — all while she allegedly was collecting disability over a foot injury claim.
Shawna Lynn Palmer, 22, who participated in this year’s Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix Beauty Pageant in April, was arrested Friday and booked into Robert Presley Detention Center on three felony counts of defrauding an insurance company, center records showed. Jail records showed that she was released the same day on $5,000 bail.
“Palmer worked as a clerk at Stater Brothers [market], and on March 10, 2014 she reported to her employer that she fractured a toe on her left foot at work,” California Department of Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in an official statement. “During multiple doctor visits, Palmer claimed that she could not place any weight on her foot, could not move it in any direction, or wear a shoe for any length of time. Palmer stated that she was not able to work due to her foot injury and continued to collect workers’ compensation benefits.”
Palmer’s doctor provided an orthopedic shoe and crutches and issued orders for her to refrain from working and elevate the foot whenever possible, according to a California Department of Insurance statement.
California insurance officials added that while collecting workers’ comp benefits, Palmer participated in at least two beauty contests wearing high heels and walking without any signs of discomfort.
“You can’t post things to social media while claiming that you’re legitimately injured, taking a check from the state for worker’s compensation benefits and expect not to get caught,” Byron Tucker, deputy commissioner at the California Department of Insurance, told ABC News station KABC.
“This suspect made the job of our departments’ detectives easier by openly participating in high-profile events,” Jones said.
ABC News’ efforts to reach Palmer have been unsuccessful, but her father told KABC he rejected the charges.
“All we’re going to say is that it’s absolute crap,” he told one of KABC’s reporters.
Palmer’s former manager at Stater Brothers, who did not want to reveal his name, told ABC News he had no comment beyond saying Palmer no longer was employed there.
Jail records showed that Palmer was expected to appear for a court hearing at Riverside Hall of Justice on Oct. 3.
If convicted, Palmer faces up to one year in county jail, three years of probation, and restitution of $24,000, state officials said.