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The owner of an Irvine-based heating and air conditioning company was sentenced Friday to a year in jail and five years of formal probation for failing to pay employees a prevailing wage on public works projects and pocketing the difference.

Shamseddin Hashemi-Mousavi, who was convicted exactly a year ago Friday, could have faced up to 26 years and eight months in prison.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg prohibited him from working on any public works contracts through the end of his probation, according to Deputy District Attorney Donde McCament.

Hashemi-Mousavi placed $58,000 in a trust fund to be used to pay for restitution at a later date, McCament said. Bromberg will hold a hearing later to determine what restitution the defendant owes.

If the defendant violates the terms of his probation, he could be looking at the maximum sentence of nearly 27 years in prison, McCament said.

The total losses in the case amounted to $225,000, according to the prosecutor, who said he objected to the sentence.

“I thought it was a state prison case. I realize the loss isn’t enormous, but there was egregious conduct,” McCament said.

Even after he was caught cheating one worker, he turned around and sued the employee to get the money back, “so I believe there was no mitigating factors,” McCament said.

Bromberg cited the $58,000 put aside for restitution and the relatively low loss figure for the victims in the case as factors as why the defendant did not get a stiffer punishment, McCament said.

The defendant must surrender on Nov. 1 to begin serving his jail sentence.

He was the first defendant to go on trial in the state for prevailing wage fraud on a public works project, which is “rampant,” McCament said.

Jurors, who deliberated for about a day and a half, acquitted the defendant of four counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud.

From 2009 to 2012, the defendant had two public works projects in Los Angeles in which he shorted some employees on their prevailing wage and pocketed the difference, McCament said.

Hashemi-Mousavi was also convicted of forging and falsifying bank records to cover up the crime, McCament said. He was charged with committing more than $120,000 in insurance and tax fraud.

— City News Service

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