Three bay area men — Eric Andrew Oller, Brian Christopher Mitchell, and Yama Sekander — former owners of painting companies, were arraigned September 20th in an Oakland court on fraud charges filed by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance (CDI).
Oller and Mitchell owned Walnut Creek-based Signature Painting and Construction Inc. and were each charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime, six counts each of felony insurance fraud, and two counts of workers’ compensation fraud.
The defendants used Valhalla Consulting and A-1 World Class Painting, businesses owned by Oller and Sekander, respectively, as a shell company to pay painting company employees from 2017-18. SPC misrepresented or omitted information about the company’s structure, misclassified employees, and underreported payroll costs to illegally reduce their workers’ compensation premium.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said, “If a business creates an environment where they falsely pay a lower insurance premium, that company has an unfair competitive advantage over one that is law-abiding.”
Mitchell and Oliver are also charged with entering into agreements to move employees from one company to another to reduce workers’ compensation costs. Authorities have accused Mitchell of using Sekander’s A-1 company to obtain a workers’ compensation policy for SPC.
SPC owners paid some employees under the table and instructed injured employees to report they worked for a different company, which allowed SPC to avoid paying and reporting the full amount of taxes owed.
Their scheme defrauded insurance carriers of more than $5 million since 2015. State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) lost premium payments totaling $3.1 million and AmTrust lost about $1.9 million.
SCIF submitted a fraud referral against SPC in 2019 and authorities began their investigation. Crimes date back to 2015, according to authorities.
Charges were filed in late August and all three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The next court date is November 18.
While the pandemic has dominated the news this year, the war over workers’ rights to free speech and fair pay and benefits has raged on. Here are a couple of recent wins for us workers:(more…)
When employers cheat the workers’ compensation system, injured workers suffer.
While employer fraudsters are routinely being caught, some are cheating the system more than others. (more…)
Picture credit: https://newint.org/features/2019/01/07/trade-turmoil-chance-justice
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