SANTA ANA, Calif. – An arsonist was sentenced to five years in state prison today for collecting over $128,000 in insurance payments after filing claims for a series of fires, later determined to be arsons, and other fraudulent reports. The defendant also illegally collected over $18,000 in welfare, housing, and MediCal benefits, for which she did not qualify, after failing to disclose the income from her many insurance claims.
Andrea Michelle Robinson, 38, Aliso Viejo, pleaded guilty Jan. 6, 2016, to a court offer of four felony counts of arson of defendant's own property, 22 felony counts of insurance fraud, three felony counts of grand theft, three felony counts of attempted arson of an inhabited property, one felony count of aid by misrepresentation, two felony counts of perjury by false application for aid, one misdemeanor count of fraudulently attempting to obtain aid for a child, and a sentencing enhancement for arson for pecuniary gain. Robinson was also ordered to pay over $159,000 in restitution.
Arson-Related Insurance Fraud
In August 2009, Robinson committed arson with the intent to commit insurance fraud by setting a fire in her 12-year-old daughter's bedroom while the child was sleeping in the defendant's master bedroom. Neighbors observed a fire and broke a window of the Rancho Santa Margarita home in order to throw water inside in an effort to put out the flames. The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) responded to the scene and put out the remaining fire. Investigators determined that the fire started next to the bed, but the source of ignition could not be determined. Robinson submitted a fraudulent insurance claim and received $25,000 from her insurance company for the fire damage.
In May 2011, while living in Aliso Viejo, Robinson committed arson with the intent to commit insurance fraud by setting a fire in the master bedroom and then leaving the home. Neighbors called 911 and OCFA extinguished the fire. When contacted by phone by OCFA, the defendant claimed to have blown out a candle in the master bedroom before leaving the residence. She subsequently submitted a fraudulent insurance claim and received $46,000 from her insurance company for the fire damage.
On Dec. 2, 2011, Robinson committed arson with the intent to commit insurance fraud by setting fire to her Volkswagen Passat and leaving it on the street in Santa Ana before entering the Westfield Main Place Mall. The Santa Ana Police Department and Santa Ana Fire Department responded to the vehicle fire and subsequently located the defendant at the mall. She claimed to have parked her car in the mall parking lot and claimed that it must have been stolen without evidence to support those claims. Robinson subsequently submitted a fraudulent insurance claim and received $9,600 from her insurance company to cover the loss and damage.
On June 1, 2012, Robinson committed arson by setting fire to the carpet in the bedroom of her Laguna Niguel apartment. The fire did not spread and went out, and OCFA was not contacted. A visible burn was left on the carpet.
On June 6, 2012, Robinson committed arson with the intent to commit insurance fraud by setting fire to the carpet in the bedroom of her Laguna Niguel apartment. OCFA responded to the scene, where the fire was already out, and the defendant claimed that a neighbor threw a burning object into the home. Fire investigators observed the burn marks on the carpet from the June 1, 2012 fire on June 5, 2012, and other evidence indicating that Robinson had started the fires. The defendant was advised by OCFA that she would be committing fraud if she submitted an insurance claim related to this fire.
All of the fires occurred in multi-family housing complexes, potentially endangering other residents, and all of the arsons were set in Housing and Urban Development residences, which are taxpayer funded and in which the defendant had no financial investment.
Based on the suspicious nature of the arson on June 6, 2012, OCFA began investigating this case and contacted the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) Office. An investigation by the OCDA Bureau of Investigation into the arsons and insurance fraud led to evidence of welfare, housing, and MediCal fraud by the defendant.
Additional Insurance and Public Assistance Fraud
Around July 2008, Robinson moved to Orange County from New Mexico. Between July 2008 and July 2013, the defendant applied for and received over $18,000 in housing, welfare, and MediCal benefits. The defendant committed perjury by falsely claiming that she did not possess a vehicle and had no income other than a 1-time, $215 birthday gift.
Between 2008 and July 2013, Robinson received over $21,000 in welfare cash aid and food stamps, over $63,000 in housing assistance, and an undetermined amount in MediCal for her and her daughter. While living in Orange County, the defendant only paid $56 a month in rent toward her $1,660 rent payment based on her fraudulently obtained housing benefits.
During this time period, Robinson lived a lavish lifestyle, traveling extensively across the United States to visit family, purchasing expensive electronics and designer handbags, and driving several cars including a Land Rover, despite claiming in her public assistance applications that she did not possess any vehicles.
During this same time period, Robinson filed other fraudulent insurance claims, reporting two residential burglaries and two vehicle burglaries or vandalisms. She claimed lost, stolen, or damaged items including but not limited to several large flat screen TVs, multiple Apple computers, diamond earrings, gold jewelry, several Gucci bags, a wine rack, dog stroller, and several designer clothing items and handbags. The defendant was paid by the insurance companies for each of these fraudulent claims.
In 2010, the defendant received an additional $35,000 insurance payment related to a malpractice suit filed against a doctor she had visited in 2008 while living in New Mexico.
Between 2008 and 2013, Robinson fraudulently received over $128,000 in insurance and legal claims. She also failed to disclose any of this income in her applications for public assistance, as required by law.
In January 2013, the defendant got a job as a hospital telemetry technician and failed to report her income in her applications for public assistance, as required by law.
Robinson was arrested July 11, 2013, by OCDA Investigators and deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
At Robinson's sentencing today, the People read a written victim impact statement to the court pursuant to Marsy's Law. In the statement the victim stated in part, “I was falsely accused of arson by the defendant which resulted in being fingerprinted, and questioned, which was a frightening experience. I was threatened at my workplace and had to file for protection with my employer against the defendant. In addition, I had to file a Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Order against the defendant. I could no longer have family or friends come to my home as I lived in fear for my safety and I did not want to put anyone else in danger. This was the most traumatic experience of my life. I suffered emotionally, physically and financially.”
Deputy District Attorney Eya Garcia of the Insurance Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.
*Defendant on public assistance filed insurance claims for luxury items including Apple computers, Gucci bags, and a dog stroller
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 13CF2143 / January 21, 2016