Crime - Sacto 911

Ex-correctional officer, wife sentenced to jail for insurance fraud

John Smiley and Cynthia Biasi-Smiley, shown in court on March 23, 2010, have been sentenced for insurance fraud.
John Smiley and Cynthia Biasi-Smiley, shown in court on March 23, 2010, have been sentenced for insurance fraud. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

A former state corrections officer and his wife have been sentenced to 240 days in county jail for insurance fraud stemming from a $4 million claim he filed after he was shot outside a San Francisco sex club in 2008.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge James McFetridge on Friday also sentenced John Smiley and Cynthia Biasi-Smiley to five years’ formal probation and ordered them to pay $38,206.70 in restitution to the State Compensation Insurance Fund, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release. The Smileys were convicted Feb. 29 of multiple insurance fraud felonies.

The charges against Smiley, a former correctional officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and his wife, Biasi-Smiley, stemmed from their fraudulent workers’ compensation claim that Smiley suffered an “on duty” injury when he was shot and paralyzed while in San Francisco in April 2008. The claim would have qualified them for compensation from the State Compensation Insurance Fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. The Smileys were previously convicted of attempted perjury in an earlier court proceeding.

On April 27, 2008, the Smileys went to a swingers club in San Francisco. Smiley had sexual intercourse with a woman while Biasi-Smiley had intercourse with the woman’s male companion, authorities said. An argument ensued when the woman accused Smiley of not wearing a condom. Her companion told Smiley that he “kills people for a living” and “was going to kill him,” according to the news release.

The Smileys left the club and, as they walked to their car, Smiley was shot in the back by the man who had threatened him. The shooting left Smiley a paraplegic.

In recorded statements to the San Francisco Police Department shortly after the shooting, the Smileys stated that they did not know or recognize the man and woman, and had never seen either of them before that night. No one has ever been arrested in connection with the shooting.

Approximately 11 months later, Smiley filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and Biasi-Smiley filed a lien for workers’ compensation benefits based on her care of her husband. Smiley also filed for an industrial disability retirement with CalPERS.

In their claims, the Smileys testified under oath at a deposition that they could not remember the club/restaurant they were leaving when the shooting occurred and could think of no reason the man would have wanted to kill Smiley. They testified that neither of them ever touched, spoke to, bumped into or danced with either the man or woman. Smiley testified that he never “looked” at the woman, even though he had told San Francisco police that he had sexual intercourse with her, authorities said.

In an effort to make the injury “work related” so he could collect workers’ compensation and industrial disability benefits, Smiley claimed he recognized the shooter as a parolee he had once transported. But when questioned by San Francisco police immediately after the shooting, he indicated the shooting had nothing to do with his work as a correctional officer and that neither of the Smileys recognized or knew the shooter and his “wife.”

Had their fraud been successful, Smiley would have received $3,002 a month for life, untaxed. Upon his death, Biasi-Smiley would have continued receiving the benefit as his surviving spouse, authorities said. Smiley’s initial demand to the State Compensation Insurance Fund was for $4 million. His wife demanded $271,000 for her services as her husband’s caregiver during the previous two years and indicated the amount was growing every day.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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