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H.B. man among two convicted in engineering fraud case

Ruben Gutierrez
Ruben Gutierrez, 45, of Huntington Beach was convicted of 205 counts, including forgery, identity theft and grand theft. He was acquitted of 46 other charges.
(File Photo)

Two men, including a Huntington Beach resident, who once worked for an engineering firm in Rolling Hills Estates were convicted Wednesday of more than 200 counts each, including forgery, identity theft and grand theft.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench heard the case against Ruben Gutierrez, 45, of Huntington Beach and Wilfrido Rodriguez, 47, of Downey, who waived their right to a jury trial.

Gutierrez — who worked as an architectural designer — was found guilty of 205 counts and acquitted of 46 others. Rodriguez, an engineering drafter, was convicted of more than 250 counts and acquitted of 129 others.

The two forged the signature of one of the licensed civil engineers that owned Palos Verdes Engineering in Rolling Hills Estates, where they had worked, and used the victim’s engineering seal to deceive homeowners and municipalities into believing the victim had personally drafted engineering plans and conducted observations as structures were being built, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stodel.

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The plans were prepared between 2003 and 2014 for construction projects throughout Southern California, including residential room additions, new single-family homes and two-story duplexes, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The victim did not discover the fraud until March 2014 and reported it to the Sheriff’s Department soon after, the prosecution said.

Gutierrez and Rodriguez were criminally charged last year.

Gutierrez could face a maximum sentence of 141 years behind bars, while Rodriguez could face more than 170 years, according to the district attorney’s office.

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The two remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing Jan. 27.

Gutierrez’s attorney, Bill Seki, said he plans to ask the judge to sentence his client to probation.

“It’s an incredibly complicated case and I think the judge put a lot of thought into it,” Seki said. “Despite her ruling, we believe there are legal issues we would like to address in an appeal.”

Seki said last year that there were no allegations of defects as a result of the engineering plans involved in the case.

Daily Pilot staff contributed to this report.

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