A married couple who own multiple businesses on Catalina Island are facing charges of allegedly defrauding their employees of more than $500,000 in overtime wages, and filing false and fraudulent statements with the state employment department, officials announced Thursday.
Jack Arthur Tucey, 80, and Yueh Mei Tucey, 75, -- also known as Nora Tucey -- are charged with one felony count each of grand theft wages from one employee exceeding $950, grand theft wages from two or more employees exceeding $2,350, conspiracy, seven felony counts of grand theft and 15 felony counts of filing false and fraudulent returns, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
It is further alleged that the victims were particularly vulnerable, the offenses are related and involve fraud and embezzlement, and include the loss of more than $500,000, prosecutors said.
"The case filed against the defendants underscores the urgent need to protect workers' rights," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
"By allegedly underreporting wages and violating overtime pay laws, the defendants not only broke the law but also contributed to the cycle of economic hardship for hardworking individuals. We are determined to combat wage theft and ensure that every worker receives the compensation they deserve. Fair wages are a crucial pillar in the fight against poverty, fostering a more just and equitable society for all."
Prosecutors contend that beginning in 2008, the defendants filed false and fraudulent statements with the Employment Development Department by underreporting the true wages that they paid their workers. The couple allegedly had the same employees work at multiple businesses in the same day resulting in up to 18-hour workdays. The Tuceys only paid the employees minimum wage for all hours worked, in violation of the overtime pay laws, the DA's office alleges.
The defendants are expected to be held on $590,000 bail each.
If convicted as charged, the couple would each face a maximum of 22 years in prison, prosecutors noted.