Fourteen Southern California residents have been charged by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in three cases of suspected workers’ compensation fraud related to two alleged “sham” schools that caused a loss to insurance carriers in excess of $22 million.
The investigation involved two for-profit vocational schools, Ryon College in Riverside and Sutech School in Los Angeles. The investigation was initiated by the DA’s office in January 2019 regarding supplemental job displacement benefits provided by workers’ compensation insurance carriers.
The defendants are charged with a variety of counts including conspiracy, insurance fraud, “capping” and receiving kickbacks, the DA’s office said in a news release on Friday.
Oswaldo Forero, 65, of Irvine, and Melbe Zepeda, 41, of Bellflower, are charged in the first case after an investigation revealed both operated the two “sham” schools that were primarily funded by workers’ compensation vouchers, the DA’s office said. The vouchers ranged in value from $6,000 to $10,000 and were intended for injured workers to be re-trained or to assist them in learning new skills to accommodate their disabilities, enabling them to re-enter the workforce.