GOLD BAR — A former Coulee City police chief has been charged with collecting $67,000 in fraudulent workers’ compensation payments from the state after investigators found she had launched a second career as a pinup model in Gold Bar.
Brenda Cavoretto, 47, is accused of two counts of making false or misleading statements to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, for repeatedly saying she was unable to perform any work — paid or voluntary — due to on-the-job injuries she suffered when a dead man’s body fell on her in February 2012.
As a model, Cavoretto went by The Black Widow Bettie, Annabella Derringer and Tuff as Nailz. She touted her brand on social media, saying she had appeared in 52 publications, including three magazine covers and three calendars, charging papers said.
Reached by phone Thursday, Cavoretto referred inquiries to attorneys at Palace Law in University Place near Tacoma. In a statement, the law firm said Cavoretto “denies that she has been paid for her volunteering and asserts that no fraud has been committed.”
“Contrary to the unsubstantiated and baseless allegations of the Department of Labor and Industries, Ms. Cavoretto has in the past volunteered to assist with charity programs to support her community as a way to give back,” the statement said.
In a previous job, Cavoretto was the chief of Coulee City police. Her official title was town marshal. A domestic violence suspect hanged himself in a barn in 2012, and as Cavoretto tried to take down the body, the 285-pound corpse fell on her. She suffered back, shoulder and abdominal injuries.
She took another job as a police officer in Soap Lake in late 2012, then moved to Gold Bar in 2013. Cavoretto began to receive benefits and vocational services from the state Department of Labor & Industries on May 8, 2013, due to the lingering effects of the injuries, according to the charges.
Cavoretto claimed severe psychological trauma rendered her unable to work or be around other people.
Her law firm said she had been prohibited from performing her law enforcement job by her medical doctors.
“There is a concern from the Department that she is acting in a fraudulent way,” Dr. Owen Bargreen said, as quoted in the Palace Law statement. “This is simply not the case, as it is something manufactured by the Department to have Brenda’s time loss taken from her, so they won’t need to pay her and will save themselves money.”
In 2015, Cavoretto began seeing a psychologist about nightmares and being unable to leave the house, the charges say. She received treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress.
In 2019, a case manager noted she had been receiving mental health treatment for four years without any improvement.
In the meantime, Cavoretto worked as a pinup model, photographer and events planner, the charges say. From 2015 through 2020, she photographed other models for two Gold Bar businesses she operated, Tuff as Nailz and Annabella Derringer, and also organized pageants and fundraisers.
In 2018, Cavoretto and her husband, Dave Cavoretto, formed a non-profit business called Electric Pinup Dolls, which raised money for veterans, firefighters and law enforcement groups, according to a filing with the secretary of state.
Other activities were through her husband’s publication, Electric Pinup Magazine. Digital magazines sold for $9.99 a copy, with physical copies costing up to $29.80.
Last October, Cavoretto told a crowd at a Sultan bar and grill that Electric Pinup Dolls had become a “full-time job” and that the group raised $20,000 in 2018, the charges say.
Cavoretto is set for arraignment Monday in Thurston County District Court in Olympia, where the state Department of Labor & Industries administers worker compensation.
The state Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.
The charges specifically cite 18 times when Cavoretto checked a box on official records stating, “I’m not working and remain unable to work at any employment,” from September 2018 to February 2020.
“Injured workers are required to tell us about all of their work and volunteer activities,” said Chris Bowe, assistant director for Labor & Industries Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “People who don’t tell the truth can be ordered to pay back their benefits and, in the worst cases, face criminal prosecution.”
Janice Podsada; email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods