A 47-year-old Corona man and his daughter each pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a $1.7 million workers’ comp scheme that allegedly involved paying employees under the table and concealing workplace injuries.
Antonio Torres Arias and Nayeli Iliana Torres, 22, are both charged with four counts of misrepresentation to obtain workers’ compensation insurance and tax evasion — felonies that altogether carry a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison.
“These types of fraudulent activities inappropriately raise the price of goods for the consumer, as well as increase insurance rates and taxes for all of us,” Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said.
The defendants appeared with their attorneys before Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for April 4.
Arias remains held in lieu of $1.7 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. Torres is free on a $25,000 bond.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the pair ran companies called Torres Services and Torres Cleaning that contracted with Cardenas Markets, a Southern California supermarket chain that is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Between 2009 and 2012, prosecutors allege the defendants engaged in various schemes to conceal information from the government and insurance companies that would trigger higher workers comp premiums.
Arias and Torres allegedly paid employees in cash, leaving no paper trail, changed the classifications of employees to obscure the type of work they were performing and covered up on-the-job injuries, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The victims were identified as Omaha-based First Comp Insurance, New York-based Chartis Insurance, Hartford, Conn.-based National Fire Insurance and the California Employment Development Department.
D.A.’s office and California Department of Insurance personnel handled the investigation.