California spa bomber serving life for killing ex-girlfriend gets 3 years in separate fraud case

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A Long Beach man already in federal prison on a life sentence for using a homemade bomb to kill his ex-girlfriend, destroying the Aliso Viejo day spa she owned and injuring two others who were there, was sentenced on Thursday, Feb. 28 to more than three years in prison in a separate fraud case.

Stephen Beal, 64, last year agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud, Social Security fraud and concealment of bankruptcy assets, with Beal admitting to filing for bankruptcy despite having received a large payout from his late wife’s estate a year earlier.

According to the agreement, Beal filed for bankruptcy in October 2009, receiving benefits by April 2011. During proceedings in this bankruptcy case, however, Beal had concealed from the court that he had collected $350,000 from an accidental death policy after his wife, Christine Beal, died in 2008.

Beal also admitted to defrauding an insurance company of more than $1 million after he lied about a disability that kept him from working. He also reported his disability to Social Security, receiving another $350,000 in benefits.

A federal judge in Orange County on Thursday sentenced Beal to three years and one month in federal prison. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and a $300 fine.

A hearing to determine how much Beal must pay back to the government and insurance agencies he defrauded was continued until April 12, said Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice in California’s Central District.

Beal received the payout for his wife’s death after he sued their insurance company, Marsh McLennan, claiming Christine Beal died from traumatic pancreatitis and from falling down a flight of stairs while carrying a nearly 50-pound table.

While a Los Angeles County coroner autopsy of Christine Beal did not find a cause of death, the report noted she suffered from “pancreatitis, electrolyte imbalance” and from “chronic lead intoxication.”

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