When a business owner filed an insurance claim to collect benefits for the family of an employee killed in a wood chipper, state authorities discovered alleged fraud.
Jose Luis Guerrero of Fullerton, CA, the owner of a tree-trimming business, is accused of under-reporting his payroll by more than $2 million over a four-year period so he would have to pay less in workers’ comp insurance premiums.
Prosecutors say Guerrero paid employees in cash to hide his payroll.
If convicted, he could get a sentence ranging from probation to 31 years in prison. He’s free on $500,000 bail.
In 2007, employee Gabriel Gonzalez was killed when he was pulled into a wood chipper while feeding branches into it.
Prosecutors say Guerrero never paid a workers’ comp insurance premium for Gonzalez, even though the employer tried to collect death benefits for the worker’s family.