A Santa Barbara police officer charged with insurance fraud was competing in “strongman” contests for at least two years while on paid injury leave, records show. An officer since September 2011, Jacob Finerty, of Newbury Park, began claiming workers’ compensation benefits sometime after June 2013, when he reported he hurt himself while on duty. The nature of the physical injury has not been disclosed. Last year, Finerty collected a base salary of $85,182.78, or $133,619.05 with benefits. He collected a similar amount the year prior.
Finerty, 27, was placed on unpaid leave as soon as the District Attorney’s Office filed its May 24 complaint, Police Chief John Crombach said. In an arraignment on June 24, Finerty stood beside his defense attorney Samantha Swanson as he pleaded not guilty to four felony counts related to filing false workers’ compensation claims. His next hearing date is scheduled for August 8.
A former offensive lineman at Nebraska’s Chadron State College, Finerty was recruited in 2006 out of Hesperia’s Sultana High School by then-head coach Bill O’Boyle. In a phone interview, O’Boyle described Finerty as a “great teammate, [a] great player for us, a guy everyone looked up to.” Chadron is known for its criminal justice and business programs. According to O’Boyle, Finerty succeeded inside and outside the classroom. “He always wanted to be a police officer.”
As of January 2016, reported the Ventura County Star, Finerty was training for the Odd Haugen Strength Classic and American MAS Wrestling Championship in Los Angeles, whose men’s heavyweight division he won. Finerty’s competition records date back to March 2014, when he took home the bronze medal at the North American MAS Wrestling Absolute Championship in Columbus, Ohio. In November 2014, he traveled to Yakutsk in Russia to compete with Team U.S.A. in the World MAS Wrestling Championships. Most recently, Finerty won the March 26 California’s Strongest Man Contest in Huntington Beach, in which he placed third the year before.
In that strongman competition, Finerty performed a series of lifting feats reminiscent of the Highland Games. He lifted a concrete Atlas stone as many times as he could and beat out competitors in an event titled Farmer’s Walk/Tire Flip/Sled-Anchor Chain Drag Death Medley. In an event called Conan’s Wheel, Finerty lifted a weight attached to a pole and pivoted it around a centerpiece.
Norwegian strength athlete Odd Haugen owns The Training Hall in Newbury Park, where Finerty works as head sports trainer, according to the gym’s website. An athlete sponsored by Dymatize Nutrition, Finerty’s brief biography on the bodybuilding supplement’s webpage states the following:
“After football he went into the police academy, so he had to learn to train differently and get into more ‘fighter’ shape. His hobbies other than lifting include Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing which helped for the academy. He needed competition in his life again so he began training strongman and MAS wrestling. In two years he has climbed the amateur ranks and finished 6th in a very elite Pro/Am show in California.”