Five owners, operators and employees of a Corona, Calif.-based paving company are facing criminal charges for alleged wage theft, premium fraud, workers’ compensation fraud and payroll fraud.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has charged:
- Sabas Trujillo, 35, of Corona.
- Lucia Trujillo, 38, of Corona.
- Rick Trujillo, 37, of Corona.
- Laura Fitzpatrick, 31, of Anaheim Hills.
- Alex Trujillo, 26, of Pacoima.
Sabas and Lucia Trujillo are married, and Rick Trujillo is Sabas Trujillo’s older brother. The three own and operate United Paving and its sister company, Prestige Striping, where Fitzpatrick and Alex Trujillo (no relation to the other Trujillos) are employed. The companies pave and repave streets and parking lots.
The allegations against the quintet include insurance premium fraud; workers being paid less than prevailing wages as agreed to in a contract; taking or receiving a portion of workers’ wages; preparing false documents for submission to a government agency; and denying an employee workers’ compensation benefits.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office alleges that the individuals’ criminal actions enabled them to illegally obtain about $4 million. The district attorney’s office also has filed civil documents, freezing $6 million in their assets.
About two years ago, dozens of then-current and former employees of the companies filed complaints with the Inland Empire Premium Task Force, asserting that they believed they had been cheated. The task force is comprised of representatives from the Riverside and San Bernardino county DA’s offices and the state Labor Commissioner’s Office, Department of Insurance and Employment Development Department.
After launching an investigation, the state obtained search warrants for both companies, seizing computers and bank, payroll and other documents. The state conducted several wage audits on several hundred projects, which ultimately led to the filing of criminal charges.
“These types of crimes, or fraud, have a significant detrimental impact upon the economy of the state,” Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said. “They also impact not only the involved worker but also the competitive businesses that are properly following state law. It is always important to ensure that all businesses can compete on an even playing field and that they all appropriately follow the same rules and regulations.”
State Labor Commissioner Julie Su noted that stealing wages from workers and falsifying payroll records to cover up a crime are felonies.
“Public dollars should not be given to scofflaw contractors who ignore California public works laws and cheat their workers from hard-earned wages,” Su said.