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Monterey County District Attorney announced that Monica Herrera, a 43-year-old resident of Newman, California and former owner of a licensed, Monterey County cannabis company, pled no contest on July 7, 2020 to felony payroll tax fraud and not having workers’ compensation insurance, a misdemeanor.

Herrera owned and operated Holistic Farms, LLC, pursuant to a California Temporary Cannabis Cultivation License and a Monterey County permit. The licensing and permits authorized Herrera to run her business at 2242 Alisal Road in Salinas, California.

During the course of a search warrant served on June 26, 2018 in an unrelated investigation, Monterey County District Attorney investigators discovered that Herrera had violated her license and permit conditions by relocating her cannabis processing operations to 2348 Alisal Road.

During that search, investigators interviewed multiple individuals who verified that they worked for Herrera as cannabis processors and that Herrera paid their wages in cash. Though Herrera had employees, investigators confirmed with public agencies that Herrera had never paid payroll taxes on employee wages to the California Employment Development Department and she did not have workers’ compensation insurance.

Herrera will be sentenced on August 25, 2020. The Court is expected to place Herrera on probation, order her to pay fines of as much as $30,000 and perform 300 hours of community service.

The Monterey County District Attorney also just announced that John Bresciani, a 65-year-old Salinas resident and owner of Pacific Coast Battery Service, Inc. (“PCBS”), pled no contest to defrauding his insurance carrier.

In September 2018, while investigating an insurance claim, Mr. Bresciani’s insurer determined that an injured worker had not been identified in prior policy years. In an ensuing investigation by the Monterey County District Attorney’s Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit, Mr. Bresciani conceded that he had not truthfully reported the worker’s employment and had kept the employee “off book” by paying cash wages.

Felony criminal charges for insurance premium fraud were filed on December 11, 2019. Mr. Bresciani cooperated with the investigation and paid restitution to his insurance carrier for the $2,943.44 premium that should have been paid. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and Judge Andrew Liu accepted the plea on July 8, 2020. Mr. Bresciani was placed on 3 years’ probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.