SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.–The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office issued a reminder today that all California employers must provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
“Those employers who break the law to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors are also putting their employees at risk,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “Our office will continue to ensure that all workers are protected and that the playing field is level for law-abiding businesses who wish to conduct business in San Bernardino County."
Ramos added that when contractors violate the law and feed the underground economy, everybody suffers.
An underground economy is one that includes activities where businesses fail to comply withbusiness and consumer licensing requirements, fail to pay or underpay payroll tax and income tax, engage in unfair labor practices such as wage theft, paying under the table, denying insurance benefits, and failure to acquire workers’ compensation insurance or making fraudulentmisrepresentations to insurers in order to gain a competitive advantage over competitors who comply with all legal requirements.
In order to continually fight the underground economy, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office has forged relationships with local government agencies.
In a case that dates back to Dec. 2015, investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit, California Contractors State License Board, Department of Industrial Relations Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and the California Employment Development Department participated in a sweep targeting unlicensed contractors in the City of Chino.
Investigators discovered multiple violations at a jobsite in the 6600 block of Pinion Court involving 37-year-old Joseph Blanco of Corona, who is the owner of DBA Rescue Green.
According to District Attorney Sr. Investigator Rodney Tamparong, who was assigned to the case, the City of Chino Code Enforcement and Building Departments were notified of the violations and assisted in the investigation. While Blanco possessed a valid contractor's license, criminal charges were filed against him for workers’ compensation fraud violations.
On April 18, 2017, Joseph Blanco entered a plea of no contest to a violation of Labor Code section 3700.5 (failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance). Blanco was placed on 24-months of summary probation and must maintain workers’ compensation insurance, pay a $1,000 fine, and serve 10 days in the county jail weekend/work release program. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Scott Byrd, who is assigned to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit.
So far, during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the monthly sweeps conducted with these local agencies have resulted in over 50 investigations that have resulted in 17 cases being filed in Superior Court with criminal charges pending. At least four open cases are still being investigated and the sweeps are ongoing. In the previous fiscal year, there were 52 investigations that resulted in 22 cases filed with criminal charges.
If you suspect workers' compensation insurance fraud or believe you are a victim of workers' compensation insurance fraud in San Bernardino County, contact the District Attorney at DAWorkersComp@sbcda.org or call (909) 891-3523.