California-based Golden Food Inc. (GFI) has pleaded guilty to numerous labor violations, including the theft of over $437,000 in wages owed to more than 30 workers.
The plea agreement was reached after investigations conducted by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO). GFI, a chicken processing business located in South El Monte, was found to have underreported payroll to its workers’ compensation insurance carriers by a staggering $4,489,390.55 from 2015 to 2021.
This deliberate underreporting resulted in $1,681,138.80 in unpaid insurance premiums to multiple insurance companies, including the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF).
The collaborative efforts of various agencies, including CDI, LCO, the District Attorney’s Office, and other insurers, have ensured that justice is served. The investigation revealed that GFI not only engaged in fraudulent payroll practices but also coerced employees to work off the clock, denied breaks, and falsified pay stubs.
The CDI obtained incriminating evidence through a search warrant, which included true payroll records and fabricated tax reporting forms used by GFI to perpetrate its fraud. The findings led to the filing of 43 felony counts of insurance fraud, grand theft, and conspiracy against the owners, Feng Wen Lam and Wei Wu.
The parallel investigation conducted by the LCO exposed extensive wage theft over several years. Workers were forced to clock out for breaks but were still required to continue working, and they were denied overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week. Pay stubs were also falsified. An audit by the LCO determined that Lam and Wu failed to pay a minimum of $437,542.56 in wages to their 34 employees, violating labor laws.
The ramifications of this illegal underpayment extend beyond the workers themselves. It undermines the stability of the insurance system, shifting costs to other policyholders and jeopardizing benefits for injured workers.
Furthermore, fraudulent businesses gain an unfair advantage over ethical ones, resulting in unfair competition and increased costs for consumers. The California Department of Insurance remains committed to protecting consumers and vigorously investigating illegal acts by insurance companies and individuals.
For legal support and guidance regarding California wage theft and other labor law issues, contact Labor Law Advocates today. Our team is here to help you fight for your rights and seek justice. Call now for a free consultation.