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Michael Vincent Petronella owned several businesses, including The Reroofing Specialists, Inc., doing business as Petronella Roofing, Western Cleanoff, Inc., and Petronella Corporation. In September 2006, an SCIF claims adjuster received a telephone call from Petronella Roofing’s secretary, reporting an employee named Morales was still receiving workers’ compensation benefits although he had returned to work. The adjuster asked the secretary to provide documentation. She received a copy of Morales’s pay stub, reflecting he worked for Western. Noticing that Western had been reported to be dormant and removed from coverage under the policy, but was still listed as an active entity on the Secretary of State’s Web site, the adjuster reported the discrepancy to SCIF’s special investigations unit.

An SCIF claims manager compiled a list of 42 persons who filed workers’ compensation claims under Petronella Roofing’s policy whose payroll had not been reported to SCIF. A certified public accountant compared the payroll reports and audit documents defendant provided SCIF with the quarterly employee wage reports actually received by EDD. The accountant prepared a report reflecting the difference between the quarterly payroll defendant reported to EDD and the payroll reports he submitted to SCIF from the fourth quarter of 2000 to the fourth quarter of 2008. Over that 8-year span, the difference in payroll reported to EDD and that reported to SCIF exceeded $29 million.

The prosecution charged defendant with one count of grand theft, 36 counts of violating Insurance Code section 11880, subdivision (a), plus numerous tax evasion crimes. The information also alleged an enhancement under Penal Code section 186.11, subdivision (a). During trial, the court dismissed the grand theft charge at the prosecution’s request and granted defendant’s motion for acquittal on the bulk of the tax evasion charges. The jury found defendant guilty of 33 counts of violating Insurance Code section 11880, subdivision (a), but acquitted him on three other similar counts and the remaining tax evasion charges. As to counts 2 through 20, the jury returned true findings the prosecution of these charges began within four years of when the crime reasonably should have been discovered. Finally, the jury also found defendant engaged in a pattern of related fraudulent felony conduct resulting in over $500,000 in losses.

The superior court sentenced defendant to 10 years in state prison. It also and ordered him to pay $500,000 in restitution under Penal Code section 1202.4. Defendant appeals from the judgment raising numerous evidentiary, instructional, and sentencing issues. Both defendant and the People appeal from the trial court’s restitution award. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s restitution order, but otherwise affirmed the judgment in the published case of The People v Michael Vincent Petronella.

The Court concluded that “a review of the trial court’s reasons for awarding SCIF $500,000 in restitution clearly indicates it abused its discretion in reaching this decision.” By ” failing to consider all of the evidence presented to it concerning restitution and relying on irrelevant factors to pick a figure out of thin air that was less than what the jury found to have been SCIF’s loss…” The matter was remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings on the restitution award.