SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas's July 29 announcement of the county's first prosecution for fraud related to public works contracts confirmed his office's intent to focus on contractors who violate the law.
Reza Mohammedi of Tustin, who owned Southland Construction, was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to 15 felony counts of failing to file a return with the intent to evade tax; 15 felony counts of willful failure to pay tax; seven felony counts of taking and receiving a portion of a worker's wage on public work; six felony counts of recording false and forged instruments; and three felony counts of filing false tax returns. His restitution hearing is set for November 29, 2013.
This conviction resulted from a collaborative effort involving the OCDA's office, the Center for Contract Compliance, Contractors State License Board, Department of Industrial Relations – Division of Labor Standard Enforcement, EDD and FTB.
According to the Department of Industrial Relations' July 29 news release, State Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su cautioned, "Wage theft is a crime and it will be prosecuted as such in the State of California. In addition, this case should serve as a deterrent to contractors who think they can get away with doctoring certified payroll records to hide the truth."
In response to OCDA's and Commissioner Su's announcements, Brad Diede, Executive Director, California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC), issued the following comments:
"Imposing this sentence within nine months of Mohammedi's indictment and the suspension of his license and business establishes precedence for enforcement agencies' ability to serve justice swiftly.
"This case proves that fraudulent contractors who intentionally cheat their workers and the state face losing their businesses and spending time in prison.
"If dishonest contractors think they can hire lawyers, pay fines and penalties and just start over after a conviction, they need to think again. Abusing workers and the system has serious consequences.
"Prior to recent stepped-up enforcement efforts in California, unlawful contractors primarily were punished with citations, penalties and license suspension or revocation. This conviction serves as a warning that prosecution and conviction can occur quickly and may result in prison time...a huge disincentive for serial violators."
Source: California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.