Richmond, Calif. Construction Firm Owners Sentenced in Fraud Case

May 21, 2003

California State Compensation Insurance Fund and Contra Costa County District Attorney Bob Kochly announced that the former owners of the now bankrupt Richmond-based Barthell Construction and Roofing Co. have been sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $187,000 in restitution to State Fund. The sentence caps one of the largest and longest running felony workers’ compensation insurance premium fraud cases in the county’s history. State Fund – which aided the Contra Costa County DA’s Office and the California Department of Insurance in the investigation – provided workers’ comp coverage to the company from 1978 to 2000.

David Sherman Barthell Sr. and Mary Victoria Barthell, of Richmond, were convicted in Contra Costa County Superior Court of five counts of felony workers’ comp insurance fraud.

A State Fund audit revealed the Barthells reportedly falsified information on job classifications to avoid paying proper workers’ comp premiums. They reported some of their workforce as clerical and sales employees when in fact they worked as roofers.

Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Mark Peterson, who prosecuted the case, said, “Our office has made workers’ comp insurance fraud a priority. We will vigorously prosecute these types of crimes which increase costs in the workers’ comp insurance system and ultimately undermine California’s economy.”

“We hope that this conviction underscores State Fund’s commitment to investigate and fight fraud,” said Donna Gallagher, who manages State Fund’s Fraud Investigation Program (FIP). “Through our Fraud Investigation Program and positive relationships with law enforcement officials, State Fund will continue its effort to protect California’s employers and employees and the integrity of California’s workers’ compensation insurance system.”

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