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Encinitas Business Owners Involved in Unemployment Insurance Scheme

Several employees of an Escondido engineering business accused of receiving unemployment benefits at the same time they were being paid cash to work pleaded not guilty today to charges of workers' compensation fraud, unemployment fraud and tax evasion. Jessica Hutchison, an employee of Christina Engineering, was arraigned earlier and is also charged in a separate case with embezzling $1.2 million from the business between 2006 and 2012, according to prosecutor Jeanie Cetlinski. Five other Christina Engineering employees pleaded not guilty to various fraud charges today. "It appears that the unemployment insurance scheme was facilitated by Hutchison, who filled out the wage reports of behalf of Christina Engineering,'' Cetlinski said outside court. The prosecutor said Hutchison, 35, was left to run the office for a semi- retired owner. That owner, along with the owners of A1 Patio and Remodeling Experts in Encinitas, Quality Way Building Maintenance in National City and Rufino's Landscaping of Escondido -- 14 defendants in all -- were indicted last month for their roles in bilking insurance companies and the state tax board out of $1.5 million.

 Marco Castaneda, of Quality Way Building Maintenance, was indicted on four counts of insurance fraud for allegedly intentionally lying about his payroll in order to receive reduced workers' compensation premiums with losses totaling $133,921. Rufino Aguiluz and his wife, Maria Foulk, of Rufino's Landscaping, were indicted on several counts of insurance fraud, payroll tax evasion and income tax evasion for allegedly failing to report payroll to various workers' compensation insurance carriers and tax collectors, with losses of $952,202.

–City News Service

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