Builder Accused of Scamming Illegal Workers

Accused of embezzling over $350,000 in employee wages, an Orange County man faces 48 years in prison.

Correction: Southland Construction performed the demolition of a building remodel at Laguna Hills High School from June 24, 2008 to July 3, 2008.

A former Saddleback Valley Unified building contractor is accused of embezzling over $350,000 in taxpayer money from his illegal immigrant employees.

Reza Mohammedi, 57, Tustin, faces 48 years in prison.

The District Attorney's Office says the owner of Southland Construction told public agencies he was paying his workers $42 to $53 an hour, but actually paid them $13 an hour.

According to the D.A., Mohameddi printed payroll checks with the higher pay, but required his employees to pay unreported workers in cash.

The D.A. further accuses him of "hiring mostly undocumented Hispanic workers and threatening to call authorities if they reported his scheme." He's also accused of coaching his workers on speaking to wage inspectors.

Southland Construction performed jobs for several Orange County municipalities, including Laguna Woods and the County.

In 2008 Saddleback Unified paid Southland $19,000 for demolition work at Laguna Hills High School following a building renovation June 24-July3.

The company was also used to install and repair concrete on a SVUSD job paid for in Jan. 2011.

The school district was contacted at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, but did not immediately return a request by Patch for more information.

Captain Jerry May 23, 2012 at 01:23 PM
He's doing something illegal to people that are already illegal, and he's the one in MORE trouble? What is wrong with this world?
Joe Promedio May 23, 2012 at 03:15 PM
This goes on way more than you think. This state does not enforce its contractor laws and this country doesn't enforce its Immigration Laws. The result is the construction industry is full of illegal activity and thousands of legal contractors get put out of business. Billions are spent on enforcing smog laws (BAR), almost nothing is spent on enforcing contracting laws. Immigration runs with their hands tied. Bring back the raids on construction sites. Whole groups of illegals protest, why didn't INS come and pick them up? I need my job back.
Sarah de Crescenzo May 23, 2012 at 05:08 PM
@Captain Jerry: I'm not quite sure what you mean. Are you saying that it's OK for people to steal from workers who are in the country illegally?
MFriedrich May 23, 2012 at 08:57 PM
In addition to sneaking into the country in violation of the immigration law that requires that aliens be documented for legal entry (referred to as "entry without inspection -- EWI"), others enter with legal documentation and then violate the terms on which they have been admitted by taking jobs that are not authorized or overstaying the authorized period of stay in the country. Both types of illegal immigrants are deportable under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) which says: "Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable." I support enforcement of the immigration and contractor laws, but one interesting question I do have from observation in OC is this - Why is it that the illegal contractors seem to be the ones actually performing the best quality construction work at the lowest prices, while legal contractors seem to be providing the shoddiest work at far higher prices?


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