A 24-year-old San Jacinto man who faked an injury to collect tens of thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation insurance funds pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge and was immediately sentenced to 24 months probation.

Angel Luis Maces admitted one count of insurance fraud under a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, and in exchange for his admission, prosecutors dropped a second related charge.

Superior Court Judge David Gunn certified the terms of the plea deal and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense. In addition to probation, Gunn ordered the defendant to serve 270 days in a sheriff’s work release program and pay victim restitution totaling $76,868.

Maces was arrested in February following a monthslong investigation by the California Department of Insurance.

According to the DOI, in September 2018, the defendant was employed by a Temecula landscaping company that sent him to Duarte to perform turf upkeep, but while on the job, he told his supervisors that he’d slipped and injured his knee.

Maces filed a workers’ comp claim through his employer’s insurance company after several examinations, at which point he began collecting insurance money, investigators said.

The insurer suspected in April 2020 that Maces was not hobbled, as he had told his physician and employer, and the case was referred to the DOI for scrutiny, according to the agency.

“Surveillance during the investigation showed Maces conducting activities that contradicted the physical limitations he described,” the agency stated. “On multiple occasions, Maces was seen not using a cane or crutches, even though he claimed he had to use them 100% of the time because of the injury.”

Maces had no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

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