Pizza business manager sentenced for insurance fraud, tax evasion in Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY (BCN) — The manager of a pizza restaurant in Soledad has been sentenced to 120 days in county jail after pleading guilty to insurance fraud and tax evasion, Monterey County prosecutors said.

Along with the jail sentence, Osama Zawideh, 52, of Soledad, was also placed on felony probation for five years and ordered by Monterey County Superior Court Judge Larry Hayes to pay restitution to an insurance company, according to the district attorney’s office.

Zawideh, the manager of Gabilan Pizza at 383 Gabilan Drive, pleaded guilty on March 14 to two counts of making a material misrepresentation in order to obtain a lower worker’s compensation insurance premium and to one count of willfully failing to file payroll tax returns with the intent to evade taxes, prosecutors said.

In 2014, the district attorney’s office’s workers’ compensation fraud unit and the California Department of Insurance conducted an uninsured employer compliance sweep in the county and obtained information that Gabilan Pizza did not have workers’ compensation insurance for its employees, prosecutors said.

Investigators determined Zawideh had committed premium fraud from March 2013 through April 2015 by underreporting the business’ number of employees and by falsely reporting payroll taxes to the state’s Employment Development Department.

He was also charged with tax evasion for not accurately reporting employee wages and payroll taxes to the Employment Development Department from July 2012 through December 2014.

In addition to the jail time and felony probation, Zawideh was ordered to pay $4,819.06 in restitution to State Farm Insurance. He was also ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines, prosecutors said.

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