DA’s Office Receives Criminal Justice Grants Exceeding $5 Million

City News Service

(CNS) – The Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to accept $5.3 million in criminal justice grants for prosecuting everything from impaired drivers to perpetrators of healthcare fraud.

In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board gave District Attorney Mike Hestrin the green light to add the four California Department of Insurance grant awards and one California Office of Traffic Safety grant award to the office’s budget for the current fiscal year.

The largest grant, totaling $3.25 million, was provided by the DOI specifically for cases stemming from workers’ compensation fraud.

“It is my continuing intent that these funds be used effectively to pursue and investigate fraud across California,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in the award statement sent to the county. “It is important to focus these finite resources on combating fraud that continues to increase costs on the workers’ compensation system, including medical provider insurance fraud, employer premium fraud, insider fraud and claimant fraud.”

The next highest sum received by the D.A. from the DOI — $904,390 — focused on auto insurance fraud.

“Funding for this program is to be used by the District Attorney’s Office for the purpose of enhanced investigation and prosecution of automobile insurance fraud and economic car theft cases,” according to a statement posted to the board’s agenda.

The state Office of Traffic Safety awarded $659,000 to support the D.A.’s Alcohol & Drug-Impaired Driver Prosecution Program.

The grant award requires the D.A.’s office to permanently assign three prosecutors to handle misdemeanor impaired driving cases.

“The prosecutors will share information with peers and law enforcement personnel throughout the county and across the state,” according to the OTS. “The D.A.’s office will accomplish these objectives as a means to prevent impaired driving and reduce drug-involved traffic fatalities and injuries.”

The DOI furnished a $454,058 grant for disability and healthcare fraud prosecutions, and the agency’s smallest award — $61,522 — was for “life insurance and annuity consumer protection.”

“The Department of Insurance … is dedicated to protecting consumers, the majority of whom are seniors, from abuse involving the sale of individual life and annuity products,” according to an agency letter attached to the grant.

Nearly one-third of the D.A.’s fiscal year budget each year is comprised of grants, fees and other revenue streams independent of the county General Fund.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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