LOS ANGELES- A brother and sister who run a construction company in Paramount have admitted to their roles in a $6 million workers’ compensation fraud and labor theft scheme, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
On April 23, 2019, Enrique Vera, 49, of Tarzana, who owns Ultimate, Inc., pleaded no contest to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud and grand theft of labor. Gloria Vera, 58, who is the company’s office manager, pleaded no contest to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud and insurance fraud.
They both admitted an allegation of committing fraud and embezzlement that resulted in a loss of more than $500,000 to the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF)
“SCIF is about making our workplaces safe and helping injured workers,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Business owners like the Vera’s are the reason SCIF employees investigators, to protect this fund from unscrupulous individuals who find a way to scheme and steal from it.”
Under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, the defendants must pay restitution of $6.3 million and more than $5,000 in investigative costs to SCIF. They also are required to pay $30,000 in fines, have one year of electronic monitoring, complete 500 hours of community service and comply with SCIF in future business dealings. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2020.
If all of the requirements are completed successfully, the defendants’ convictions will become misdemeanors and they will be placed on 18 months of summary probation. Failure to comply with the terms of the plea agreement could result in a sentence of eight years and eight months in state prison to be served in local custody for Enrique Vera and nine years for Gloria Vera.
According to the prosecutor, the siblings submitted altered payroll records to SCIF in order to pay a reduced premium on the construction company’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Additionally, Gloria Vera failed to disclose and concealed employees’ on-the-job injuries that entitled them to workers’ compensation. Enrique Vera underpaid employees the required prevailing wage as a contractor for a student housing renovation project at UCLA.
The crimes occurred from Jan. 1, 2012, through March 31, 2017.