Federal authorities were searching Friday for a former Manhattan Beach woman who skipped bail just before a San Diego County jury found her guilty of insurance fraud, perjury and tax evasion.

Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, who was free on $500,000 bail, failed to show up in court Thursday for the verdict.

Podgurski claimed she slipped and fell at home in August 2006, causing her to be so severely disabled that she required an in-home caregiver. During the time she was allegedly disabled, she took several vacations, including a 16-day tour to China with her boyfriend in 2008, the San Diego County District Attorney's office said.

More than seven insurance carriers and a government agency were victims of Podgurski's disability and homeowner scams. During the trial, about 70 witnesses testified, including doctors, lawyers, insurance company investigators and contractors.

Her counts include grand theft from Amtrak Railroad Retirement Board and white-collar enhancements involving taking more than $500,000.

"This defendant's flagrant disregard for the law and her employer increase costs for everyone. Deputy District Attorney Carol Buck did an excellent job presenting the facts of the case to the jury," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.

Private investigator David Mancini was the first assigned to investigate Podgurski and conducted the initial interview with her.

"During my interview, there were numerous factors that raised `red flags' such as her refusal to answer any questions about her concurrent insurance claims.


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As a result, I conducted several periods of surveillance on Ms. Podgurski and obtained video of her engaging in activity that was contradictory to her alleged disability," he said.

"In turn, contact was made with other insurance carriers, and it was determined that she was receiving benefits from numerous carriers for the same alleged injury. ... In 23 years of conducting investigations, I haven't seen a case this egregious, and I commend the San Diego District Attorney's Office for their diligence and professionalism in bringing this individual to justice."

Initially, Podgurski posted a $500,000 property bond and was out of custody during the two-month trial. She is facing 33 years in prison.

Anyone with information on Podgurski's whereabouts is asked to call the U.S. Marshals Service at 619-557-6620.

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