Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer   CONTACT PERSON:
Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer
(408) 792-2997   For release on January 21, 2010     FORMER EMPLOYEES OF LOCAL CONTRACTING COMPANY FACING FELONY CHARGES   Four former employees of San Andreas HVAC, Inc, a commercial and residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning installation contractor located in Hollister, are facing felony charges. Antonio Salas, 44, of Los Banos, Raul Paul Gonzalez, 45, of Hollister, Carlos Nunez Ramos, 41, of Hollister, and Ramiro Nunez Ramos, 40, of Hollister are each charged with seven violations for taking and receiving the wages of a worker. Additionally, Carlos Ramos is charged with thirteen counts of perjury for falsely reporting wages paid on a public works payroll reporting form, as well as a violation of workers’ compensation insurance premium fraud. Raul Gonzalez is also charged with one violation of making a false or fraudulent statement to discourage a worker from claiming benefits or pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.   It is alleged that during the period from August 2004 through January 2007, the principals of San Andreas HVAC were taking kickbacks from their employees on various public works projects in Santa Clara County, including the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall and public housing projects such as San Antonio Court and Jasmine Square, while they were certifying to the awarding bodies that they were paying their employees prevailing wage. It is alleged that the kickback wage scheme resulted in the defendants receiving over $170,000 in kickbacks.   It is also alleged that Carlos Ramos committed workers’ compensation premium fraud by misclassifying employee wages to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier in order to reduce their premium.  In addition, it is further alleged that Raul Gonzalez dissuaded two employees from reporting their work related injuries to doctors. As a result, these workers were denied medical care and workers’ compensation benefits.   When a contractor is awarded a public works contract, they are required to pay their employees prevailing wage. The contractor must certify under penalty of perjury to the awarding body that they are in fact paying prevailing wage. The employer is required to also certify that the employer has not taken or received from an employee wages for services rendered on a public work.   If convicted of all counts, defendant Ramos faces a maximum of 24 years 8 months in state prison, defendant Gonzalez faces a maximum of 12 years 8 months in state prison, and defendants Salas and Ramos both face up to 9 years in state prison. Restitution to the employees and insurance carriers would also be ordered. All four defendants are scheduled to be in court on March 2nd at 9:30am to set a preliminary hearing date.   ###  

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