Tri-Cities car shop owner admits WA worker’s comp scam. It was the 2nd time – Yakima Herald-Republic

July 26, 2022 by No Comments

Jul. 25—A year and a half long investigation has ended with a Tri-Cities business owner pleading guilty to a felony related to a worker’s compensation scam.

Rod’s Cars owner Rodney Eugene Dietrich, 47, pleaded guilty recently in Benton Franklin Superior Court to a felony count of failing to provide worker’s compensation.

It wasn’t the first time he’s been charged with dodging paying worker’s comp premiums at his Kennewick auto shop, according to a news release from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

Dietrich first got on L&I’s radar more than a decade ago, changing his business name, structure and license number three times after falling behind on worker’s comp premium payments.

Each time L&I gave repeated warnings before revoking his worker’s compensation insurance, meaning he couldn’t legally hire employees, according to L&I.

In 2014, L&I found out he was employing at least two people. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in 2016.

A year later, L&I employees driving by the shop on Clearwater Avenue noticed he seemed to be employing people again. According to L&I, the shop is less than two miles from their local office.

L&I then launched a year and a half long investigation, which included staking out the shop and recording Dietrich and employees working.

One employee told L&I he was being paid under the table, the other compensated with auto parts for his labor.

Dietrich was sentenced to 30 days electronic home monitoring under house arrest.

In addition to the criminal charges, he also owes more than $40,000 in late premiums, interest and penalties, according to department records. He also owes more than $2,200 in wages and penalties for failing to pay an employee in 2013.

According to L&I, worker’s compensation insurance ensures provides medical, vocational and other services to help workers who are injured on the job heal and return to work.

The coverage also provides pensions for survivors of workers who die of workplace injuries. Employers and employees share the cost of insurance premiums.

This story was originally published July 25, 2022 4:14 PM.

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