GRANT COUNTY, Wash. — A former police chief of a small town in Grant County is facing charges of workers' compensation fraud after state investigators alleged she was untruthful about her inability to work.
In February 2012, Brenda Lynn Cavoretto was serving as police chief of Coulee City when she was hurt. A 285-pound corpse fell on her during a police call, and she suffered back, shoulder and abdominal injuries, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).
Cavoretto, who is now 47 years old, also claimed that she had such severe psychological trauma that she could not work or be around other people, L&I said. However, a state investigation found she was actually working and volunteering in the world of pinup models while telling the state she could not work due to her on-the-job injuries.
Now, Cavoretto faces two charges of making false or misleading statements to collect more than $67,000 in workers' compensation benefits, L&I said.
The charges cover Cavoretto’s official declarations on L&I forms from September 2018 to February 2020 that she was unable to work in any employment.
Falling corpse incident
A domestic violence suspect had hanged himself in a barn in February 2012 and the corpse fell on Cavoretto as she tried to take down the body, according to L&I.
She then worked as a police officer in Soap Lake until May 2013, when she began receiving L&I wage-replacement payments and vocational services due to lingering effects from the falling corpse incident.
In May 2015, Cavoretto began seeing a psychologist, according to L&I. She told him she was having nightmares and was unable to leave the house, and the psychologist determined she was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A case manager with L&I case requested in the spring of 2019 Cavoretto be investigated. He noted she had been receiving mental health treatment for four years without any improvement.
Cavoretto allegedly worked as pinup model while receiving benefits
The L&I investigation found that Cavoretto was photographing pinup models, organizing pinup pageants and fundraisers, and was often photographed herself under such names as Tuff As Nailz and The Black Widow Bettie from 2015 through early 2020.
She posted on social media in 2015 that she appeared as a model and photographer in 52 publications, including three magazine covers and three calendars, according to charging documents.
Some of her pinup activities were through Annabella Derringer, a modeling, event and photography business that she licensed with the state Department of Revenue in 2015, according to L&I.
According to L&I, other activities were through her husband’s publication, Electric Pinup Magazine, and her nonprofit group, Electric Pinup Dolls, that raised money for veterans, firefighters and law enforcement.
In October 2019, Cavoretto told a crowd at a bar and grill in Snohomish County, Washington, that Electric Pinup Dolls had become a “full-time job” and that the group raised $20,000 in 2018, L&I said.
Lawyer releases statement
Scott Ugelstad, the lawyer representing Cavoretto, released a statement calling the accusations against her "baseless" and "unsubstantiated." He also claimed that Cavoretto has volunteered with charity programs and denies being paid for her work.
The full statement is as follows:
Brenda Cavoretto has dedicated over 12 years to law enforcement, rising to the rank of Police Chief of Coulee City, Washington. While on duty, and performing her job, Ms. Cavoretto suffered a traumatic injury in February 2012, which involved a 285- pound dead body falling on top of her and causing significant physical injuries as well as affecting her mental health. As a result of these injuries, she has been prohibited from performing her former job by her treating medical doctors; a job she cannot perform until she is able to fulfill her duties to protect and serve. According to one of her treating doctors, Dr. Owen Bargreen, "There is a concern from the Department that she is acting in a fraudulent way. 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." 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. Ms. Cavoretto denies that she has been paid for her volunteering and asserts that no fraud has been committed. Ms. Cavoretto and her legal counsel believe that she will be cleared of any alleged wrongdoing.
Cavoretto, who lives in Gold Bar, Washington, is scheduled for arraignment on Monday, Oct. 19 in Thurston County District Court in Olympia. The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on an L&I investigation.