California Agriculture Company Owner, Daughter Sentenced in $2.5M Workers’ Comp Scheme
Felipe Saurez Barocio, 63, of Atwater, Calif., owner of Agriculture Services Inc., and his daughter, Angelita Barocio-Negrete, 34, of Merced, were sentenced to 10 years after pleading no contest to six felony counts of insurance fraud each.
Both serve six years in custody and four years on mandatory supervision. They were also ordered this week to pay $2.5 million restitution – the amount of workers’ compensation insurance premium they reportedly avoided paying over five years.
Barocio and his daughter reportedly underreported employee payroll by $11 million to fraudulently reduce the business’s premium for workers’ comp insurance. The fraud potentially left employed farm workers without insurance coverage and at financial risk.
On Oct. 14, 2019, State Compensation Insurance Fund filed a suspected fraudulent claim with the California Department of Insurance alleging potential insurance fraud. SCIF reported that Barocio, as owner of a farm labor contracting business, underreported employee payroll in order to reduce the proper rate of insurance premium owed to SCIF.
An investigation by the California Department of Insurance reportedly revealed that between 2015 and 2019, Barocio and his daughter, who worked as the office manager, provided SCIF with fabricated quarterly employee payroll reports. The CDI discovered $11 million in missing payroll when they compared the quarterly reports submitted to SCIF to the quarterly reports submitted to the Employment Development Department. This underreporting of employee payroll resulted in a total loss of $2,5 million in insurance premium.
Barocio and his daughter, Barocio-Negrete, were sentenced on Jan. 12 in the Merced Courthouse and ordered to pay restitution on Feb. 22.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted this case.
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