A Laguna Hills, CA, contractor and his wife/wannabe TV celebrity are living proof that you shouldn’t mess with the workers’ compensation system.
Michael Vincent Petronella, a.k.a. Michael Constantine, and his wife Devon Lynn Kile have been convicted in one of the largest workers’ comp scams in California history.
Petronella, the owner of three roofing and general building contractor businesses is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for his crimes.
His wife, who recently applied to be included in the Bravo hit TV series “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” must complete 10 years of probation and pay nearly $3 million in restitution to avoid the same sentence as her husband. She already served two years in jail while the case was pending.
In addition to other misdealings, Kile pleaded guilty to:
- 36 felony counts of misrepresenting facts to the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF)
- 15 felony counts of willful failure to pay taxes to the Employment Development Department
- 10 felony counts of failing to file a tax return with the intent to evade taxes
- six felony counts of failure to file a tax return
- six felony counts of filing a false tax return, and
- one felony count of making fraudulent statements.
An investigation into the couple’s business practices began when an employee was injured falling from a roof. The worker then submitted a payroll stub to the SCIF. The stub listed an employer that the SCIF did not insure.
After a two-year investigation, the Orange County Premium Fraud Task Force discovered the couple:
- fraudulently submitted 42 claims for uninsured injured workers, and
- underreported $29 million in payroll to avoid paying workers’ comp premiums. The couple only reported $3 million in payroll.
Before their arrest, the couple lived good life — made possible by pocketing millions in comp premiums. They owned five properties, a Bentley, two Ferraries and a Range Rover.
The question is: Does this hurt Kile’s application to be on Bravo’s TV show? This could be the kind of drama that boosts ratings.