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Crime

Ojai business owner pleads guilty to workers’ compensation fraud

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - Ventura County's District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced Thursday that a business owner in Ojai recently pled guilty to two counts of felony insurance fraud.

51-year-old Jose Velasquez of Ojai owned and operated Velasquez Gardening between March 1, 2015, and March 1, 2020. During that time, the DA's Office said Velasquez lied about the number of employees he had and his total payroll when reporting to his workers’ compensation insurance company, Wesco Insurance.

This resulted in Velasquez underpaying the company for insurance premiums by $30,483, causing inflated costs to the company, which are ultimately passed on to local consumers. This also provided an unfair advantage by allowing him to underbid competitors by not paying his fair share of workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

At the time of his pleas, Velasquez reportedly paid the full amount back to Wesco Insurance Company, however, he still faces a maximum sentence of six years in felony jail.

His sentencing is scheduled for April 28 at 9 a.m. in courtroom 23 of the Ventura County Superior Court.

Ventura County
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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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