Case # 15CF0737
Date: May 18, 2015
BUSINESSMAN AND BOOKKEEPER CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR TAKING WORKERS’ WAGES ON PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT
SANTA ANA – A businessman and a bookkeeper were convicted and sentenced Friday for defrauding employees by taking their wages on a public works project. Saeed Kenari, 54, Tujunga, pleaded guilty Friday, May 14, 2015, to four felony counts of receiving workers’ wages on a public works project, eight felony counts of failure to pay taxes, and four felony counts of attempting to file a false or forged document with a sentencing enhancement allegation for property loss over $200,000. He was sentenced to four years and eight months in state prison and ordered to pay $540,000 in restitution.
Co-defendant Rina Arakelian, 62, Glendale, pleaded guilty on Friday, May 14, 2015, to one felony count of conspiring to file a false or forged document. She was sentenced to 50 days in jail and three years formal probation.
Co-defendant Shahan Haider Zaidi, 44, Long Beach, is charged with four felony counts of conspiracy to commit fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years and six months in state prison. Zaidi remains a fugitive.
Kenari and Arkelian are convicted of, and Zaidi is accused of the following:
Between October 2006 and December 2012, Kenari operated Sunland Fire Protection (SFP) in Glendale. Kenari took a portion of his workers’ wages on SFP’s public works projects from newly immigrated workers who were not familiar with the law. Kenari hired Arakelian as a bookkeeper and Zaidi as an office worker and an estimator with SFP. Kenari accepted several public works projects for SFP in both Los Angeles and Orange County.
Kenari, Arakelian, and Zaidi falsified SFP payroll records in order to conceal the hours worked by workers who were not paid their full wage. Kenari failed to report over $1 million in payroll to the Employment Development Department resulting in a loss of over $100,000.
This case was referred to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office by the California Department of Industrial Relations cafter investigating the wage theft and issuing a Civil Wage and Penalty.
Deputy District Attorney Donde McCament of the Workman’s Compensation Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.