A 38-year-old Aliso Viejo woman is to be arraigned today for allegedly setting fires to her home and car to collect $128,000 in insurance payments and of lying to reap $85,000 in welfare, housing, and MediCal benefits for which she did not qualify.
Andrea Michelle Robinson is also accused of receiving insurance payments from thefts and malpractice settlements without reporting the income and spending some of her ill-gotten funds on Apple computers, Gucci bags and a dog stroller.
The suspicious nature of the last of five arson fires between August 2009 and June 2012–from which Robinson collected insurance payments on at least three of them–led to the investigation that not only uncovered insurance fraud but the public assistance fraud as well, according to an arraignment statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office.
Here is the OCDA breakdown on the fires:
In August 2009, Robinson is accused of committing 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 is accused of submitting a fraudulent insurance claim and receiving $25,000 from her insurance company for the fire damage.
In May 2011, while living in Aliso Viejo, Robinson is accused of committing 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 [Orange County Fire Authority] extinguished the fire. When contacted by phone by OCFA, the defendant is accused of claiming to have blown out a candle in the master bedroom before leaving the residence. She is accused of submitting a fraudulent insurance claim and receiving $46,000 from her insurance company for the fire damage.
On Dec. 2, 2011, Robinson is accused of committing arson with the intent to commit insurance fraud by setting fire to her Volkswagen Passat and leaving it on the street in Santa Ana. She is accused of then going to 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 is accused of claiming to have parked her car in the mall parking lot and claiming that it must have been stolen without evidence to support those claims. Robinson is accused of submitting a fraudulent insurance claim and receiving $9,600 from her insurance company to cover the loss and damage.
On June 1, 2012, Robinson is accused of committing 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 is accused of committing 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 is accused of claiming that a neighbor threw a burning object into the home. Fire investigators observed the burn marks on the carpet from the fire on June 1, 2013, and other evidence indicating that Robinson had started the fires. The defendant is accused of being advised by OCFA that she would be committing fraud if she submitted an insurance claim related to this fire.
Prosecutors note that the fires occurred in Housing and Urban Development multi-family housing complexes to point out Robinson did not have financial investments in the residences and that she allegedly endangered other residents (not to mention falsely implicated one as a criminal).
The OCFA launched an investigation that led to bringing in the OCDA and its Bureau of Investigation, which discovered the alleged public assistance fraud as it was uncovering the insurance fraud allegations, according to OCDA.
Robinson is accused of moving to Orange County from New Mexico around July 2008, which is when she started applying for and receiving what would become more than $85,000 in housing, welfare, and MediCal benefits through last month, according to the OCDA, adding she allegedly committed perjury by falsely claiming she did not possess a vehicle and had no income other than a $215 birthday gift.
More than $21,000 in welfare cash aid and food stamps, more than $63,000 in housing assistance and an undetermined amount in MediCal for Robinson and her daughter is how the OCDA breaks down the assistance alleged to be illegally received. “While living in Orange County, the defendant is accused of only paying $56 a month in rent toward her $1,660 rent payment based on her fraudulently obtained housing benefits,” reads the OCDA statement.
But Robinson is further accused of “living a lavish lifestyle,” traveling extensively across the country, 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.
She is further alleged to have submitted fraudulent insurance claims for two residential burglaries and two vehicle burglaries or vandalisms, claiming to have lost or had damaged several large flat screen TVs, multiple Apple computers, diamond earrings, gold jewelry, several Gucci bags, a wine rack, a dog stroller and several designer clothing items and handbags, states the OCDA, which adds she was paid off on those claims.
In 2010 received an additional $35,000 insurance payment related to a malpractice suit filed against a doctor in 2008 while living in New Mexico, adding to what is currently tabulated to be $128,000 in insurance and legal-claim income she failed to disclose on her applications for public assistance, as required by law, the OCDA notes.
It's also required by law that those receiving public assistance report income from employment, adds the OCDA while disclosing Robinson landed a job as a hospital telemetry technician this past January and allegedly never disclosed that.
She is to be arraigned on 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 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. At the hearing in Santa Ana, prosecutors will seek $250,000 bail.
Robinson, who was arrested Thursday by Orange County sheriff's deputies, faces up to 41 years in state prison with a conviction.