Meth muddle

By James Quiggle
January 1, 2002
What was cooking at the bakery — cupcakes or meth? Richard Martinez accidentally blew up an illegal meth lab he operated above his mother’s Santa Ana, Calif. bakery, but somehow convinced an insurer to pay him $40,000 in workers compensation money from the bakery’s own policy after he was burned over 60 percent of his body.

But when Kemper Insurance finally grew suspicious, Martinez first claimed he was asleep when the blast occurred, then changed his story and insisted the explosion happened when he tried to light a water heater while working for the bakery.

No-go, the state superior court ruled in September. Martinez, who spent four months in the hospital, received nearly four years in state prison in September 2002. Needless to say, Martinez also must pay his own hospital bills. His mother’s bakery, the Zapopan Panaderia, never reopened.

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