Jose Luis Guerrero, Tree-Trimmer Owner Who Lost Worker to Wood Chipper, Gets 5 Years

Categories: Court, Crime-iny

Fargo-wood-chipper.jpg
A Fullerton tree-trimming business owner who filed workers' compensation insurance claims for one worker killed in a wood chipper and a second seriously injured in an on-the-job vehicle accident--despite never having paid premiums for the employees--was recently sent to prison for five years. Jose Luis Guerrero, the 45-year-old owner of Jose Martinez Tree Service Inc., had pleaded guilty to under-reporting more than $2 million in payroll to the State Compensation Insurance Fund between March 2005 and March 2009.

Jose Luis Guerrero Accused of Workers Comp Fraud; Case Began With Employee Dying in Wood Chipper

It was a review of the Nov. 7, 2007, wood-chipper death of Gabriel Gonzalez by State Compensation Insurance Fund officials that uncovered the widespread fraud, according to Deputy District Attorney Debbie Jackson.

The investigation discovered Guerrero failed to pay the State Compensation Insurance Fund $619,000 and owed $81,000 in state taxes. He only paid workers-comp premiums for some employees, mostly clerical workers, presumably to keep the premiums lower, Jackson told City News Service.

The insurance fund still paid benefits to the family of Gonzalez and the other worker hurt on the job, Jackson added.

Guerrero pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to 20 counts of intent to evade taxes, four counts of false or fraudulent statements to reduce premiums, and two counts of making fraudulent statements to obtain or deny compensation, all felonies.

He also admitted to sentencing-enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime between $100,000 to $500,000 and theft exceeding $150,000, and also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of an assault weapon.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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13 comments
claudiag0920
claudiag0920

This whole article is false. Don't understand why the media can't change and start writing the true facts

Ocean
Ocean

You can catch many companies under reporting to there Workers Comp Insurance carrier. For instance MSA or Mountain and Sea Adventures/ Mountain and Sea Educational Adventures runs camps in Catalina, Long Beach, Newport Beach and Big Bear. The CEO Annie MacAulay has massively under reported to there WC carriers for decades, including to State Fund. If an employee gets injured they tell them to keep it quite. Then they pay there own Dr. to treat the employee. If the injury is too big they simply fire the employee. This is one of those "Christian" companies with zero morals or ethics.

John Crane
John Crane

a wood chipper is a rough way to go....ya gotta figure its hands first....

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

That's California justice for ya...

Joe Espinosa
Joe Espinosa

Hey Joshua Alexander that pic is from Fargo the movie.

Kelly Richey
Kelly Richey

So the dude that raped a disabled 69 yr old woman in an old folks home in YL got 3 years, but workers comp fraud lands you 5 yrs???

Lisa King
Lisa King

Im in the wrong career he made two million from 09-12 trimming trees Damn!!

Joshua Alexander
Joshua Alexander

Btw that reminds me... we hit a boot! where's the fooot!! where's the foot!

RocketJ
RocketJ

In all these plea deals, any provision for paying what was fraudulently withheld from the compensation insurance fund, State Franchise Tax board, etc.?

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