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A Millbrae woman allegedly defrauded San Francisco and her employees of more than $600,000 by falsely claiming she was paying prevailing wages on city contracts, city officials said today. Frances Ann Doherty has been arraigned on 57 felony counts including wage theft, filing false instruments, offering fraudulent documents and workers’ compensation insurance premium fraud, according to District Attorney George Gascon.
Doherty, 51, is the owner of Doherty Painting and Construction, a painting contracting company that has won “dozens” of contracts with the city, school district and other public agencies over the past three years. In order to win the contracts, Doherty had to promise to pay her workers San Francisco’s prevailing wage, and submitted documentation showing that she did so.
However, city officials now allege that she submitted false documents on 23 such contracts while underpaying her employees and pocketing more than $600,000 that was supposed to go to their wages. At the same time, they say she defrauded her workers’ compensation insurance carriers out of more than $100,000 in insurance premiums by submitting false employee payroll information. “This conduct not only victimizes workers who are desperately trying to make a living in a very tough economy, it also hurts the honest businesses that were unable to successfully compete for these projects which the defendant was able to underbid and win as a result of this scheme,” Gascon said.
Doherty was arrested Thursday at her business as the result of a joint investigation involving San Francisco District Attorney Investigator Diane Kenny and California Department of Insurance Detective Gladys Rivera, with the help of the state Office of Labor and Standards Enforcement. Bail has been set at $750,000.
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