More than Your Own Slice of the Pie

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A California pizza shop owner is in big trouble for withholding the government’s piece of the pie. Bay City News reports that this pizza punk was caught not only evading payroll taxes, but also fudging employee numbers to drive down the cost of his required workers’ compensation insurance premium.

For a little over two years, the shop owner falsely misrepresented the number of employees he had on staff, to make it appear as though he didn’t employ as many as he actually did. This fraudulently decreased the amount of payroll taxes he owed the government and also lowered his State Farm workers’ compensation insurance premium. (Because you don’t have to insure or pay taxes for ”nonexistent” employees.) This also required him to defraud California’s Employee Development Department, which monitors this information, and he did so by inaccurately reporting to the agency his employee wages and payroll taxes.

The district attorney’s workers’ compensation fraud unit and the California Department of Insurance conduct regular uninsured employer compliance sweeps. When it was this guy’s turn, their noses led them to pieces missing from the overall pie. They ended up filing formal charges against him, including tax evasion. (You could say his pizza went cold, as the case became hot.)

This cheesy cheat ended up pleading guilty to two counts of making a material misrepresentation in order to obtain a lower worker’s compensation insurance premium and one count of willfully failing to file payroll tax returns with the intent to evade taxes. He was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines and another $4,819.06 in restitution to State Farm Insurance. Once he is released from prison, he’ll serve another five years on felony probation. (So he’ll need to quit cutting corners and just stick to cutting slices.)


Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Pizza business manager sentenced for insurance fraud, tax evasion in Monterey County,” a report published by Bay City News on April 28, 2016.

Zawideh, the manager of Gabilan Pizza at 383 Gabilan Drive, pleaded guilty on March 14 to two counts of making a material misrepresentation in order to obtain a lower worker’s compensation insurance premium and to one count of willfully failing to file payroll tax returns with the intent to evade taxes, prosecutors said. Investigators determined Zawideh had committed premium fraud from March 2013 through April 2015 by underreporting the business’ number of employees and by falsely reporting payroll taxes to the state’s Employment Development Department. He was also charged with tax evasion for not accurately reporting employee wages and payroll taxes to the Employment Development Department from July 2012 through December 2014.

In addition to the jail time and felony probation, Zawideh was ordered to pay $4,819.06 in restitution to State Farm Insurance. He was also ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines, prosecutors said.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.