California Department of Insurance Investigators in conjunction with Kern County District Attorney’s Office arrested Bakersfield residents Lonzoe Richard Hart, 64, and Barbara Jean Cornelius, 52, on workers’ compensation fraud charges on Nov. 1.
Hart and Cornelius were booked into Kern County Jail on 23 felony counts following an 18-month investigation by the CDI’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Motor Vehicles and auditors from the Employment Development Department (EDD), which revealed underreporting of wages paid to employees. These wages are required to be reported to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for proper determination of premiums, and to EDD for computation of employment taxes.
If convicted, Hart and Cornelius could face up to 19 years in state prison. Bail for each was set at $25,000. The Kern County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case. The complaint filed by CDI Investigators alleges that Hart and Cornelius made misrepresentations of wages paid to employees to the State Compensation Insurance Fund and EDD.
It further alleges Hart and Cornelius conspired to misrepresent facts to their workers’ compensation carrier, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, causing a loss of over $35,000 in premiums. EDD auditors assessed over $69,000 for underreported payroll taxes and penalties.
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