In June 2020, employees of a local roofing firm in San Jose, Calif., were driving two company trucks when one of the truck’s tires blew out. Reports of the accident said the driver with the flat tire overcorrected when attempting to regain control and crashed. One of the employees, a crewman with San Jose-based CD All Roofing, was ejected from the vehicle and died.
More than three years after that tragedy, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office filed charges against CD All Roofing’s principal, Charlie Duong, 64, for committing insurance fraud to the tune of $460,000, according to a news release by the DA’s office on July 17.
In the statement, prosecutors claim Duong attempted to cover up that the dead employee had worked full-time at the company for years. According to the district attorney’s office, Duong is accused of falsifying records to show the driver was only part-time and had just started working for the firm. As a result, the deceased man’s widow lost benefits entitled to her by the firm’s insurance carrier.
Duong has been accused of faking employee records to avoid insurance premiums and was arraigned on July 17 on charges including faking information for his employees to avoid insurance premiums. He faces felonies for the fraudulent scheme and potential time in jail if convicted.
The DA’s office asserts Duong made efforts to “prove” that the victim, who was not identified, was not “on the job” when the crash occurred despite the deceased being ejected from a company vehicle. The scheme came to light only after the DA’s office learned the victim was Duong’s longtime second-in-command at CD All Roofing.
Evidence also showed that Duong asked one of the surviving employees from the crash to “lie to investigators," the DA's office added. The employee refused to lie and told investigators his coworker had been working “faithfully at the company, six days a week, for eight years.”
Usually, workplace accidents are covered by worker’s compensation insurance, which is required by law for any concern with at least one full-time employee. Workers’ compensation pays for medical expenses and wage replacement if an employee is injured or develops an illness on the job. According to reporting from KRON in San Jose, losses from fraud have been estimated to cost insurance companies $1 to $3 billion in California every year.
“Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “This felony crime raises our premiums and [exposes] innocent workers and their families to financial catastrophe; we will never look the other way.”