A former Amtrak employee and Encinitas resident who duped insurance companies and others via disability and homeowner scams was convicted in absentia Thursday of 29 felony charges, including insurance fraud and grand theft.
A no-bail arrest warrant was issued for 60-year-old Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski when she failed to show up for the verdict in San Diego Superior Court. She used to live in Encinitas, according to U-T San Diego.
In addition to insurance fraud and grand theft from the Amtrak Railroad Retirement Board, the defendant was also convicted of perjury, tax evasion and a white-collar enhancement involving the theft of more than $500,000.
"Insurance fraud costs U.S. consumers more than $80 billion a year," said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. "This defendant's flagrant disregard for the law and her employer increase costs for everyone."
Podgurski claimed she slipped and fell at home in August 2006, which caused her to be so severely disabled that she required an in-home caregiver to assist her with daily living. During the time she was allegedly disabled, Podgurski took several vacations, including a 16-day tour to China in 2008 with her boyfriend, prosecutors said.
The defendant also traveled to the Dominican Republic, New York, Seattle, Boston and Fort Lauderdale, and took road trips to Key West, Eureka, the Berkshires and other destinations, according to the prosecution.
Podgurski had posted a $500,000 property bond and was out of custody during the two-month trial.
Anyone with information of her whereabouts is asked to call the U.S. Marshals Service at (619) 557-6620. Podgurski was last living in the Manhattan Beach area.
-City News Service