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The San Francisco District Attorney announced multiple felony charges against Gemma Maher, office administrator of Cullinane Plastering, for insurance and tax fraud. Her employers, Denis Cullinane, owner of Cullinane Plastering, and Jeremiah “Jerry” Cullinane, owner of Cullinane Construction, have warrants outstanding for charges related to insurance and tax fraud.

Maher and her employers are alleged to have engaged in a years long scheme to defraud their victims by concealing approximately $5.8 million in unreported payroll to avoid paying insurance premiums and payroll taxes. Denis and Jerry Cullinane remain at large.

The Court previously entered an order freezing all the defendants’ assets to prevent them from dissipating those assets and to preserve the funds for victim restitution. The three defendants are residents of San Francisco and operate the local construction company Cullinane Plastering which has been licensed by the CSLB since 1989.  

The alleged fraud was discovered after a Cullinane Plastering employee was seriously injured while working on a job site on May 8, 2019.

Instead of informing the injured worker that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, Denis Cullinane, Jerry Cullinane, and Maher allegedly concealed the employee’s existence and injury from their workers’ compensation insurance carrier, State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), for almost a year.

When Maher finally disclosed the injury to SCIF on March 12, 2020, she made multiple alleged misrepresentations about the worker’s employment history and injury to further the fraud.

The resulting investigation revealed that Denis Cullinane, Jerry Cullinane, and Maher utilized Jerry Cullinane’s Cullinane Construction company to conceal the injured worker’s wages from SCIF and the Employment Development Department (EDD) in violation of California law.

In addition, the investigation uncovered that Denis Cullinane, Jerry Cullinane, and Maher submitted allegedly fraudulent employee payroll information to SCIF from 2018 through 2020 and to EDD from 2017 through 2020. These fraudulent reports artificially lowered their workers’ compensation insurance premiums and tax contributions – both of which are determined in part by employee payroll.

This resulted in an estimated $270,000 loss to SCIF in unpaid premiums and an estimated loss to EDD of over $300,000 in unpaid payroll taxes (and over $1.5 million in unpaid taxes and penalties).

This case was developed through a multi-agency operation led by San Francisco District Attorney Senior Investigator Jennifer Kennedy and conducted in collaboration with investigators from the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Insurance, and the Employment Development Department.

Assistant District Attorneys Stephanie Zudekoff and Rebecca Friedemann are the prosecutors assigned to the case.