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…)
Amazon is in hot water again, as data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed the company’s warehouse workers are more likely to sustain work-related injuries than other warehouse workers in retail. For over three years now, Amazon has reported a higher rate of serious injury accidents that caused employees to miss work or be transferred to light-duty tasks, compared to non-Amazon retail warehouse workers. (more…)
While insurance company lobbyists and think tanks spend their days getting laws changed in Sacramento so they can extract more profit from the workers’ compensation system, workers are falling into poverty after a work injury. (more…)
Some States have attempted to protect certain classes of workers when they are infected with COVID-19 by passing new laws. Nevertheless, huge insurance companies still have found ways to deny the help injured workers desperately need. (more…)
Employers who are unsure about whether to require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or not should take into consideration the role of state and local laws and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (more…)
As numerous COVID-19 vaccines await FDA-approval, employers across the country are wondering what this means for their business. Should they require their employees to take the vaccine? (more…)
Senate Bill 1159 by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), which took effect immediately after it was signed into law on September 17 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires employers to retrospectively report positive employee COVID-19 tests that occurred between July 6 and September 17 by October 29. In addition, the law requires employers to report positive employee COVID-19 tests within three business days beginning on September 18 and going forward. (more…)