The Orange County District Attorney has announced the recovery of nearly $96,000 in stolen wages from a former Santa Ana police officer after he was found to have committed workers’ compensation fraud. 

On October 5, 2017, Santa Ana Police Officer Jonathan Ridge was injured while in pursuit of a suspect driving a stolen vehicle and went out on disability leave due to his injuries the same day. 

According to reports, Ridge had surgery on his left wrist on May 2, 2018, and was told by his doctor to remain off work during his recovery. 

In November of 2018, Ridge was given the go-ahead by his doctor to return to work with restrictions, but the restrictions were too severe for the City of Santa Ana to accommodate, which resulted in the city being required to pay Ridge Total Temporary Disability and keep him on disability payments through an insurance policy, leading him to receive 100% of his pay without working. 

The City of Santa Ana authorized surveillance of Ridge in March 2019 when his condition didn’t seem to improve despite having surgery on his wrist for an injury that had happened 18 months earlier. 

The surveillance found that Ridge was engaging in activities well beyond what his doctor had imposed, including attending full-time college classes, taking a road trip to Utah, going to the beach and driving his motorcycle; all activities that Ridge never disclosed to his doctor or the city and enabled him to continue to receive full compensation without working even though he was fully capable of returning to work in a modified position. 

Ridge pleaded guilty in April 2021 to three felony counts of insurance fraud and one felony count of making a fraudulent statement to obtain compensation. 

“Workers’ compensation fraud costs honest, hardworking businesses and government entities more than thirty billion dollars a year,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “We will not allow those who commit workers’ compensation fraud to go unpunished…Thankfully, our Insurance Fraud Unit ensured the taxpayers of Santa Ana were fully reimbursed for the money stolen by this officer.” 

Although he faced a maximum of eight years in prison, Ridge was sentenced to 180 days in the Orange County Jail with the sentence stayed if the stolen wages were paid back in a timely manner.