A 39-year old Santa Ana police officer has been charged with committing workers' compensation insurance fraud for continuing to accept his full pay without working even though he was physically capable of returning to work, Orange County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Officer Jonathon Ridge was injured on Oct. 5, 2017, while pursuing a suspect driving a stolen vehicle, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Ridge went on disability leave due to his injuries. On May 2, 2018, while still on leave, Ridge had surgery on his left wrist, and his doctor continued to keep him off work while he was recovering.
Local news from across Southern California
In November 2018, Ridge was released by a doctor to return to work with restrictions, but those restrictions allegedly were too severe for the city of Santa Ana to accommodate.
As a result, the city was required to pay Ridge Total Temporary Disability while he also received disability payments through an insurance policy, resulting in Ridge receiving 100% of his pay without working, the DA's Office said.
From March to May 2019, the city authorized surveillance on Ridge, and the subsequent investigation found that he was engaging in activities well beyond what the doctor had imposed, including attending college classes nearly full-time, packing up his car and driving to Utah, going to the beach and driving his motorcycle, prosecutors said.
Ridge, who surrendered on Tuesday, and has been charged with four felony counts of insurance fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison if convicted on all counts.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 23.
Deputy District Attorney Pamela Leitao of the Insurance Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.
Neither Ridge nor his attorney could be reached for comment.