Los Angeles, CA – An investigation by the California Department of Insurance recently resulted in the arrest of Rene Carlos Aguero and Gustavo Adolfo Lopez 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 (CIT). Many of the injured workers were Spanish speakers who were asked to sign documents in English, which they did not understand.
Aguero and Lopez were charged with 18 felony counts, including conspiracy, insurance fraud, grand theft and forgery. The fraudulent insurance claims are estimated to reach $1.7 million.
“Injured workers who were looking for a fresh start and returning to the job market were left without the training they were entitled to because of unscrupulous people with no regard for their future,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who leads the largest consumer protection agency in the country, with a team of 1,300 professionals that includes more than 300 law enforcement professionals. “We will investigate and pursue insurance crimes targeting workers in vulnerable communities to the fullest extent of the law.”
Over three years from January 2017 to February 2020, Aguero and Lopez submitted fraudulent documents to nine different insurance carriers and billed for services not rendered to recipients of the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits (SJDB) 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 failed to refund the injured workers after redeeming their SJDB voucher and not providing the classes for which they were registered to take.
The investigation by the California Department of Insurance 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. On one occasion, CIT sent an invoice for payment and an enrollment agreement to an insurance carrier with a signature and initials purportedly made by the injured worker, despite the fact the injured worker had died nearly 5 months prior to the date on the enrollment agreement.
Many injured workers were made to believe they were enrolled in a legitimate school, but never received or completed training. Some workers contacted CIT to follow up on their training, but received no help from CIT, including laptops for which CIT invoiced multiple insurance carriers.
On September 9, 2022, 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 December 5, 2022. The case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.