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A Corona man and his daughter who have been charged with taking more than $1.7 million in what officials say was a workers’ compensation fraud scheme have pleaded not guilty.The Press-Enterprise reports that Antonio Torres Arias, 47, and Nayeli Iliana Torres, 22, each pleaded not guilty during their Thursday, March 14, arraignment in the downtown Riverside Hall of Justice courthouse. Their next court date is April 4. Jail records showed Torres is out of custody; Arias remained in jail early Thursday evening on $1.7 million bail.

Investigators said the defendants operated several companies that leased employees to the Cardenas Markets supermarket chain. There is no information that Cardenas Markets was involved in any of the alleged wrongdoing, a news release from the district attorney’s office said.

Arias and Torres are each charged with five felonies – four counts of misrepresentation to obtain workers’ compensation insurance and one count of tax evasion. If convicted as charged, each could face up to 16 years in prison. Arias and Torres conducted the alleged fraud to reduce the amount of premiums owed for workers’ compensation insurance. They used “cash pay” employees, misclassified employee jobs, and concealed the history of employees’ workplace injuries as far back as 2009, prosecutors said.

Two of the defendants’ companies included Torres Services and Torres Cleaning. The companies that authorities say were wronged in the case include First Comp Insurance, Chartis Insurance, National Fire Insurance and the state Employment Development Department.

The case was investigated for about nine months by a task force that includes the Riverside County District Attorney’s office and the California Department of Insurance. Authorities were alerted to the case by investigators from First Comp Insurance. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Michael Mayman, of the office’s Insurance Fraud Unit of the Special Prosecution Section.