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O.C. man allegedly embezzled $350,000 from public agencies

May 22, 2012 |  8:00 pm

Reza Mohammedi was charged in an O.C. embezzlement caseA Tustin man is set to be arraigned Wednesday on charges that he embezzled more than $350,000 in employee wages from public works contracts with several Orange County cities and government agencies.

Reza Mohammedi, 57, is accused of filing phony payroll reports certifying that workers at his company received from $42 to $53 an hour. He was allegedly only paying them $13 an hour, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

To cover his tracks, Mohammedi handed out payroll checks with the correct wage amount but required his employees to return a majority of their pay to him after they cashed their checks, the district attorney's office said in a statement. He also allegedly filed false tax returns.

He is accused of hiring illegal immigrants and threatening to call authorities if they reported his scheme.

Mohammedi owned Southland Construction and held contracts with Brea, Fullerton, Orange as well as agencies such as the Orange County Transportation Authority  and Saddleback Valley Unified School District, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the crimes allegedly took place between December 2008 and February.

Arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. Mohammedi is being held on $500,000 bail.

--Robert Lopez

Photo: Reza Mohammedi. Credit: Orange County district attorney's office