A retired Los Angeles police officer accused of faking a disability to defraud insurers while simultaneously collecting pension benefits pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
Terry Johns, 56, of Corona, is charged with three counts each of workers' compensation insurance fraud and attempted perjury, along with two counts of insurance fraud.
The charges, which include allegations of theft of more than $100,000, were filed Mar. 7. He was arrested in Riverside County the next morning and released the same day after posting a $160,000 bond.
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Johns--who is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom June 21--faces up to 12 years and six months in prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Johns received disability payments from 2014-16 while employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, while the 32-year veteran allegedly engaged in physical activities inconsistent with his claimed work-related injury, according to Deputy District Attorney Arunas Sodonis of the Healthcare Fraud Division.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Johns collected nearly $250,000 in pension and salary payments while on leave due to what he claimed was a bad back.
Prosecutors allege Johns lied about his activities under oath during a deposition, as well as lying about his health to a doctor.
At the time, Johns was participating in the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which allowed him to collect pension payments while getting regular pay and benefits as a full-time employee until his August 2016 retirement.
The DROP program for police officers and firefighters was designed to retain experienced first responders, but a Los Angeles Times investigation found that almost half of enrollees from July 2008 to July 2017 -- more than 1,200 public safety officers -- subsequently took disability leaves, typically claiming bad backs, sore knees and other age-related ailments. Leaves averaged 10 months, but in hundreds of cases lasted for more than a year, the newspaper reported in February.
The city's administrative officer recommended eliminating the program in 2016.
At least three other police officers not in the DROP program have been arrested in 2018 for workers' compensation fraud, according to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck.