California Contractors Charged in $5M Workers’ Comp Fraud Scheme

September 20, 2021

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office along with the California Department of Insurance on Monday announced charges against multiple suspects in an organized insurance and workers’ compensation fraud scheme that reportedly defrauded insurance carriers over $5 million in estimated losses.

Former owners of Signature Painting and Construction Inc, Eric Andrew Oller and Brian Christopher Mitchell, 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’ comp fraud.

SPC is based in Walnut Creek, but operates throughout the Bay Area.

Defendant Yama Sekander, owner of A-1 World Class Painting, was also charged with one count of felony workers’ compensation fraud.

Oller is also the owner of Valhalla Consulting, which along with A-1, was allegedly used as a shell company by Mitchell to pay employees at SPC.

From 2017 to 2018, SPC allegedly paid its employees using VC’s bank account, with the intent to illegally reduce its workers’ comp insurance premium. SPC reportedly misrepresented information or didn’t include information about its company structure and payroll costs to its insurance carriers in order to illegally reduce its insurance premiums.

It is alleged that Mitchell was illegally misclassifying employees and underreporting payroll costs to reduce workers’ comp insurance premiums. It is alleged that Mitchell misclassified several of these employees to lower premium costs.

Mitchell and Oller are also accused of entering into agreements to move employees from one company to another to save money on workers’ comp insurance. Mitchell is accused of using Sekander’s company, A-1, to obtain a workers’ comp insurance policy for his company, SPC.

The allegations also include that some employees at SPC were paid “under the table” so that the company could avoid paying or reporting the proper taxes. The defendants also allegedly instructed some injured employees to report working for one company, while in reality, they worked for another.

Insurance carrier State Compensation Insurance Fund suffered a reported loss of $3.1 million in premium payments while AmTrust loss was $1.9 million.

The investigation into the defendants began in 2019 after SCIF submitted a fraud referral to the CDI. The fraud began in 2015.

Charges were filed in late August and all three defendants were arraigned the morning of Sept. 20. Their next court date will be Nov. 18.

Topics California Workers' Compensation Fraud Contractors

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