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Bulldozer operator death leads to contractor fraud conviction

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Coasttocoast (talk)/Wikimedia Commons
Monterey County Court House, Superior Court in Salinas, Calif.

A contractor has been found guilty of fraud charges stemming from the death of a bulldozer operator hired during the 2016 Soberanes fire in Big Sur.

The Oct. 17 verdict by Monterey County Superior Court Judge Andrew Liu found Ian Nathaniel Czirban, a 34-year-old Madera County resident, guilty of payroll tax evasion, submitting false documents to Cal Fire and failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Czirban was the focus of a criminal case resulting from the July 2016 death of Robert Reagan III, the bulldozer operator he hired to work at the wildfire that burned 132,000 acres and destroyed 57 homes.

The office said in a news release that Monterey District Attorney’s Office investigators discovered that:

“Czirban, a licensed contractor, had a history of operating his business, Czirban Concrete Construction, without workers’ compensation insurance.”

Investigators said evidence also showed that Czirban falsely claimed to have workers’ compensation insurance when he signed a contract with Cal Fire in May 2014 calling for him to provide bulldozers and qualified operators for work at assigned wildfires.

The District Attorney’s Office said:

“It was not until after Mr. Reagan’s death that criminal investigators discovered that Mr. Czirban had provided CAL FIRE with a false insurance document.”

“It was also discovered he had never registered his business as an employer with the California Employment Development Department.”

Criminal charges against Czirban were filed in May 2017 that included a felony violation of filing a false document with Cal Fire.

Other charges included failing to file payroll tax returns with the Employment Development Department and failing to withhold payroll taxes from employee wages and failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance.

Czirban had pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 13 and faces a maximum prison sentence of four years and eight months, and must pay restitution to Reagan’s heirs, the District Attorney said.

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