Updated: Apr 28, 2021
In a press conference outside the San Diego County Administration Building, District Attorney Summer Stephan and San Diego County Supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, helped launch the three day Tax Fraud Days of Action. TFDOA. is a series of events aimed at highlighting the impact of construction industry tax fraud and implementing strategies to curtail the widespread criminality that costs the State an estimated $8.4 billion a year; a figure made more alarming when one considers the economic impact of Covid-19.
Fletcher and Stephan doubled down on their commitment to aggressively attack the problem head on. “Corrupt business practices by contractors hurt the workers, rob our communities, and ultimately increase the cost of everything we do.” Fletcher said. Stephan stressed, "They have the money because of their cheating ways to hire armies of lawyers to hide what they're doing but we won't put up with it."
Last month, Fletcher’s office introduced, and the county board of Supervisors passed, the Subcontractor Transparency Measures for County Permits. This new ordinance will require subcontractors to access a portal and disclose more information about employees on construction projects. Fletcher also announced that he will be forming the county’s first Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement next month.
San Diego County District Attorney, Summer Stephan reaffirmed her commitment to battling tax fraud with her office's launching of the workplace justice unit. Stephan stressed the ease of reporting criminal activity and the anonymity with which the process would provide for citizens wanting to connect directly with the district attorney’s office to report tax fraud. She once again urged anyone who witnesses fraud to contact her office anonymously and emphasized that cases would be processed and an investigation would be initiated within 24 hours.
Stephan touted the fact that as of the day of the press conference, her office had received eleven reports and that they all were being investigated.
Fletcher and Stephan were joined by Albert Carrillo, CEO of Western Wall and Ceiling Contractors Association, Doug Hicks, San Diego lead representative for the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, and Javier Santizo, who gave his personal account of being victimized by tax fraud and wage theft.
Carrillo said in an interview after the press conference, "it robs the people who play by the rules. And it hurts the community because tax fraud, or fraud in general which is what this is, robs the community form having that money re-invested."
“Let’s make no mistake, this is intentional criminal activity in our industry,” said Hicks.
Santizo, was passionate as he told his story of victimization, “I would work sixteen hours a day, and I wasn’t paid my overtime until I took them to court,” said Santizo. “But there’s many workers out there that don’t have that same luxury of speaking up. They are afraid of telling their experience at work.”
On this subject, Stephan was very clear about recourse for victims of tax and wage fraud. "Take every detail down...document your losses...provide dates and who your employers are." She continued, "The portal is very easy to access or you can call if you're not comfortable with email and someone will call you back within 24 hours."
"San Diego is fighting back. We are doing something about it." said Stephan.
There is a round table discussion on Friday and Tax Fraud Days of Action will end Saturday with a rally against tax fraud outside of the Pinnacle towers project at 11th and Broadway.