An Irvine construction company owner and his Costa Mesa foreman were arraigned Monday on charges linked to the alleged defrauding of employees of $330,000 in wages.
Mustafa Mohamed Bdaiwi, 41, of Irvine and Antonio Naranjo Jr., 40, of Costa Mesa are charged with 11 felony counts of taking and receiving a portion of a worker’s wage on a public works project and two felony counts of recording a false and forged instrument, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. They also face sentencing enhancements for property loss of more than $200,000, the office said.
Bdaiwi and Naranjo pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday, according to the Orange County Superior Court website.
Bdaiwi owned construction company Malcon Civils Inc. and employed Naranjo as a project administrator at the time of the alleged crime.
In December 2011, Bdaiwi was awarded a project by Irvine and given contracts to construct a wall at an elementary school in the city.
He was also awarded a project by the city of Hemet and, upon completion of the job, allegedly embezzled the funds meant to be paid to workers, according to a news release from prosecutors.
Bdaiwi and Naranjo are accused of requiring workers to return a portion of their wages for projects completed between January 2011 and August 2012. They allegedly threatened to fire the employees if they did not comply.
Over the course of the projects in Irvine and Hemet, Bdaiwi and Naranjo also allegedly forged payroll records.
The Center for Contract Compliance started investigating the two men in 2011 and contacted the district attorney’s office shortly after.
If convicted, Bdaiwi and Naranjo face a maximum sentence of 12 years and four months in state prison. Bdaiwi was released on a $330,000 bond, while Naranjo remails in jail on the same amount of bail. He must prove the money is from a legal source before posting bond.
The defendants are scheduled for a pretrial hearing Jan. 3 in Santa Ana.