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UPDATE: Staffer of Rep. Sturla fired after charged with insurance fraud
On Friday, Representative Mike Sturla released this statement on Friday, confirming the termination of a staffer, accused of insurance fraud.
I first heard yesterday about these serious allegations against an employee in my office, Vanessa Rodriguez. After looking into the matter further, I decided to terminate her employment earlier today.
Every constituent who visits or seeks help from my office must have confidence not just in me, but also the staff who work with me to serve the public. Trust and responsibility are essential in an office like ours. Unfortunately, based on what I know at this point, Ms. Rodriguez no longer met the standard for continued employment.
Reported by: Chris Papst
Long-time Democratic Representative Mike Sturla, out of Lancaster, has some trouble on his hands. CBS 21 has learned that one of his tax-payer funded staffers has been charged with felony insurance fraud.
Representative Mike Sturla in his 24 years in the State House has built a reputation as someone who isn't afraid to voice his opinion. But when CBS 21 approached him he had nothing to say about Vanessa Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has been a paid staffer for the 11-term Democrat since 2009. She draws a taxpayer funded salary of $32,570 and was just charged with felony insurance fraud.
Court documents explain how Rodriguez allegedly admitted to staging a burglary at her Lancaster City home and then claiming items to the insurance company that were never inside the home. The investigation into Rodriguez began back on January 4 when she called police saying her home had been broken into. Shortly after, she provided the insurance company a list of stolen items totaling $10,000. According to police, Rodriguez then offered her roommate $1,000 to claim more stolen items so Rodriguez could get more money. But the roommate declined the offer and went to police.
Through the investigation, it was learned that in the summer of 2013, police had kicked in a door at Rodriguez's house after a report of suspicious activity. Court documents say it was that damage that Rodriguez took pictures of to show her house had been burglarized.
Rodriguez works for Sturla's district office in Lancaster City. We called to get comment and learned that despite these charges; she still works there collecting a taxpayer funded paycheck. But she declined to talk to us.
Rodriguez is now awaiting a date for her preliminary hearing.
Rep. Sturla released this statement:
"This is a serious matter and I am trying to gather more information about it. It appears the alleged actions had no relation to her work in my office. Without knowing more facts and without having seen the relevant legal documents, I am not in a position to say anything further at this time."