A Washington auto repair shop owner was caught in a workers’ compensation scam for the second time in six years and has pleaded guilty to the crime.
Rodney Dietrich, owner of Rod’s Cars, was sentenced to 30 days of electronic home monitoring after pleading guilty to doing business without workers’ compensation insurance for the second time, a felony offense.
Along with the home monitoring, Dietrich owes L&I more than $40,000 in late premiums, interest and penalties, along with more than $2,200 in wages and penalties for failing to pay an employee in 2013.
Dietrich had two employees from November 2017 to May 2019, and he failed to provide workers’ compensation insurance during their employment.
One employee was paid in cash under the table, while the other traded his labor for auto parts or other items, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
Business name changed 3 times to avoid comp payments
In 2016, Dietrich pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor version of the same offense. He had operated the auto shop at the same location since 2004, but changed its name, business structure and business license three times after each one fell behind on workers’ compensation payments.
L&I revoked Dietrich’s workers’ compensation insurance after repeated notices and warnings, which meant he was no longer allowed to hire employees. However, L&I investigators found he was employing at least two workers in the shop during a 2014 investigation.
Shop located 2 miles from L&I field office
In October 2016, Dietrich pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge. One year later, L&I employees drove by Dietrich’s business, which is located on a main roadway within two miles of an L&I field office. The L&I employees noticed the auto shop appeared to have employees again.
Investigators staked out the shop for more than a year, recording Dietrich and his employees working there. This led to the recent felony charge.