California Contractor Sentenced in Wage Theft Case

Reza Mohammedi was sentenced to two years in state prison by Orange County Superior Court Judge R. Fitzgerald on July 26, the Department of Industrial Relations reported.

The owner of a Southern California construction company who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $350,000 in employee wages from two public works contracts and filing false tax returns has been sentenced to a two-year prison term, the California Department of Industrial Relations reported.

Reza Mohammedi, 58, of Tustin was sentenced by Orange County Superior Court Judge R. Fitzgerald on July 26. Mohammedi owns Irvine-based Southland Construction. He is scheduled for a restitution hearing on Nov. 29, and the state Labor commissioner's office is working to restore the wages to 18 workers.

"This case shows that the Labor Commissioner is committed to effective public works enforcement in the state," said Christine Baker, director of DIR, parent agency of the commissioner's office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. It opened an investigation of Southland after receiving numerous complaints filed by workers and by the Center for Contract Compliance, which revealed Southland did not pay proper prevailing wages and overtime wages to 25 workers. On Jan. 10, 2012, Southland was assessed $121,163 in unpaid wages and $128,300 in penalties on the "The Tracks at Brea" project administered by the City of Brea.

According to DIR's news release, Mohammedi submitted fraudulent certified payroll records to the Labor commissioner falsely stating he was paying his workers the correct wage of $42 to $53 an hour for each project but actually paid $120 to $150 per day and never paid overtime.

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