Prison Sentence Imposed on Badly Burned Defendant Who Caused Explosion In His Methamphetamine Lab, For Drug Manufacturing, Theft and Insurance Fraud


Orange County District Attorney
Press Release

Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
September 10th, 2002
Contact:Vickie Bridgman
Deputy District Attorney
(714) 347-8723

SANTA ANA – On September 9, 2002, Richard Martinez, whose body was badly burnt as a result of an explosion caused by his own methamphetamine lab, pled guilty to methamphetamine manufacturing, grand theft and insurance fraud before Commissioner Cheryl Leininger, Department C-55, in Orange County Superior Court. Martinez will serve a prison term of 3 years 8 months. 

As part of his guilty plea, Martinez will dismiss his worker’s compensation insurance claim and pay restitution in the amount of $40,000.00 to Kemper Insurance.  As a result, Kemper Insurance will not have to pay nearly $500,000 of Martinez’ medical bills resulting from his injuries.

Back on February 4, 2000, Martinez was burned over sixty percent of his body in a fire caused by the explosion of a methamphetamine laboratory at the Zapopan Panaderia, located at 414 Euclid in Santa Ana.  At the time of the explosion, Martinez was the son of the owner of the bakery and was also an employee of the bakery.  Martinez initially claimed that he was sleeping at the time of the explosion.  Martinez then later changed his story and claimed he was lighting the water heater when the fire started. 

While he was still recovering from his injuries, Martinez filed a workers’ compensation claim with Kemper Insurance claiming that his injuries were a result of his employment with the bakery.   Martinez continued to claim that his injuries were related to his work duties to his doctors and to those investigating his workers’ compensation claim until February 2002.

The initial complaint was filed on November 15, 2000, as a result of a multi-agency cooperation.  The District Attorney Investigative Unit, Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana Fire Department, and California Department of Justice investigated this case.  Investigation into the explosion determined that Mr. Martinez was operating a methamphetamine laboratory in the attic of the bakery and not working as an employee of the bakery at the time of the explosion.