An investigation by the California Department of Insurance resulted in the arrest last week of Rene Carlos Aguero, 71, and Gustavo Adolfo Lopez, 56, for allegedly submitting fraudulent vocational training vouchers for workers’ compensation claims and failing to provide the training at the for-profit school they run, Computer Institute of Technology.
Many of the injured workers were Spanish speakers who were asked to sign documents in English, which they did not understand, according to investigators.
Aguero and Lopez were charged with 18 felony counts, including conspiracy, insurance fraud, grand theft and forgery. The CDI estimates the fraudulent insurance claims to reach $1.7 million.
Over three years from 2017 to 2020, Aguero and Lopez reportedly submitted fraudulent documents to nine different insurance carriers and billed for services not rendered to recipients of the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits voucher, valued between $6,000 and $10,000. Injured workers can use the non-transferable vouchers to pay for educational retraining or skill enhancement at state-approved or accredited schools, according to the Department of Industrial Relations.
Aguero is listed in California Secretary of State records as chief executive officer of CIT’s North Hollywood location, and Lopez as chief executive officer of the school’s location in the city of Bell. CIT is alleged to have victimized multiple injured workers by enrolling them in vocational rehabilitation courses, using their SJDB voucher and not providing the classes. In addition, CIT reportedly failed to refund the injured workers after redeeming their SJDB voucher and not providing the classes for which they were registered to take.
The CDI investigation reportedly determined that CIT forged injured workers’ signatures on vocational school documents such as CIT enrollment agreements, vouchers, and contracts. In some cases, injured workers were asked to sign blank documents with no explanation.
Many injured workers were reportedly made to believe they were enrolled in a legitimate school, but never received or completed training.
On Sept 9, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed felony criminal charges and issued an arrest warrant for Aguero and Lopez.
Aguero’s bail was set at $150,000. His arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 5. The case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.