The former chief executive officer and two managers of a now-defunct employment placement agency are set to be arraigned Thursday on charges that they fraudulently overbilled Los Angeles County for placing clients into jobs they already held, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
Salvador Velasquez, 79, Jorge Hernandez, 57, and Benjamin Brus, 41, are charged with one count each of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, grand theft and altering or falsifying a public document, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Velasquez, the firm’s former chief executive officer, is charged with 10 additional counts.
The three worked for the now-defunct East San Gabriel Valley Human Resources Commission, also known as LA Works, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Velasquez, Hernandez and Brus are accused of improperly billing more than $1 million to Los Angeles County.
They allegedly directed staff to falsify public records to make it appear that the agency had provided services to more than 180 people seeking work, according to the District Attorney’s Office. None of the participants, who were part of two nursing residency programs, were unemployed when they were LA Works clients, prosecutors said.
Velasquez allegedly developed an incentive program that provided annual bonuses to himself and others, including his co-defendants, and was tied to meeting county performance measures, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
He also allegedly convinced LA Works board members to keep him as a consultant after his retirement in 2003 and continued to receive benefits, including performance incentives and health insurance, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
If convicted as charged, Velasquez could face up to 14 years in state prison, while Hernandez and Brus could each face a maximum of 10 years behind bars.
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