SANTA ANA, Calif. – An Orange County business owner was sentenced to one year in county jail for committing over $200,000 in tax fraud and failing to pay employees prevailing wage for work performed on two public works contracts. Shamseddin Hashemi-Mousavi, 64, Irvine, was found guilty by a jury on Oct. 7, 2015, of 37 felony counts including taking and receiving a portion of worker's wage on public works, attempted taking and receiving a portion of worker's wage on public works, forgery, recording false and forged instruments, and willful failure to pay tax. At his sentencing one year later on Oct. 7, 2016, he was also sentenced to five years of formal probation without electronic confinement and is expected to be ordered to pay over $200,000 at a restitution hearing at a date to be determined later.
At the time of the crimes, Hashemi-Mousavi owned AAA-HVAC, an Orange County-based heating and air conditioning business.
Between 2009 and 2012, the defendant applied for and received two public works contracts in Los Angeles County. For these projects, the defendant fraudulently paid several of his employees less than prevailing wage in cash or by check and kept the extra money owed to his employees for himself.
Hashemi-Mousavi forged, falsified, and submitted bank records to fraudulently show that his employees had been paid their prevailing wage. The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Contract Administration (LA BCA) discovered this fraud and recovered money for the worker. Hashemi-Mousavi then filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court to recover the workers rightfully earned wages. He willfully failed to pay his tax to the Employment Development Department. In all, the defendant committed over $200,000 in fraud.
The case was investigated by the LA BCA and the Department of Industrial Relations at the California Labor Commissioner's Office.
The City of Los Angeles submitted a written impact statement letter pursuant to Marsy's Law, which was read aloud to the court by the People and said in part, “When an unscrupulous contractor deprives them of those wages, it is theft. Pure and simple. He did not stick a gun in their ribs, but the result is the same.” The letter went on to say, “Too often, non-violent crime is treated almost as if it is not a crime at all. In this case, money – in the form of wages – was stolen from a group of workers by someone they knew and should have been able to trust – their own employer.”
Deputy District Attorney Donde McCament of the Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.
“This joint enforcement action sends a message to all employers who attempt to cheat their workers out of hard-earned pay. We stand ready to protect both the workers who get bilked out of a just day's pay for a hard day's work, as well as every honest employer who plays by the rules and gets undercut by unethical business owners,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.
The BCA is the City of Los Angeles' lead contract compliance agency that enforces governing laws on City contracts and on public works construction projects. The Bureau protects the City and ensures the delivery of quality construction work. As an independent quality control agency, the Bureau's dedicated Construction Inspectors and Compliance Officers promote a transparent and consistent contracting environment that secures economic development opportunities for new jobs and businesses while protecting tax payer funds and the public interest. For more information, please visit http://bca.lacity.org.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 13CF3627 / October 11, 2016
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