Calif. trucking company owners face fraud charges for drivers working under the table

A California trucking company’s owners were held on $950,000 bail each for an alleged scheme to avoid higher insurance premiums and taxes by paying drivers cash and providing inaccurate employee information to state officials.

Alvin Shin Chen, 54, and Fiona Xilin Chen, 46, owners of Metro Worldwide, Inc. and Pacific Coast Distribution, were each charged with 18 counts of workers’ compensation fraud and five counts of failing to pay taxes. They were scheduled for arraignment April 29 in Los Angeles County Superior Court after state insurance department detectives arrested them at their La Cañada Flintridge home.

The co-owners of the 20-truck interstate carrier allegedly reduced workers’ compensation premiums by misleading their insurer about how many employees they had and what work they performed. They paid cash to company truck drivers to avoid reporting them to the insurer and to reduce payroll taxes, said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office

Between 2009-2013, the Chens underreported payroll by more than $4.7 million, which shorted their insurer out of more than $1.6 million in workers’ compensation premiums. If convicted as charged, they could face up to 36 years in state prison.