Ex-Councilman, Motel Owner Faces Prison Time for Work Comp Fraud, Other Felonies
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 | 768 | 0 | 5 min read
A former Red Bluff city councilman has pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud and three other felonies stemming from his operation of an America’s Best Value Inn in the Northern California city, the Redding Record Searchlight reports.
Suren Patel, 44, faces up to seven years and eight months in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 22.
Patel owned and managed a chain motel off Interstate 5 South in Red Bluff. Tehama County prosecutors started investigating him in March 2015 after receiving a tip about how he was handling the motel’s workers’ compensation insurance, the Record Searchlight reported last year.
In May 2015, the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office started looking into Patel’s business records. Prosecutors allege that Patel failed to turn over about $20,000 in taxes to the City of Red Bluff and charged a customer’s credit card several thousand dollars after she stayed there.
He was also accused of falsifying documents on behalf of two employees so that they could obtain welfare benefits, and of reporting inaccurate information to a workers’ compensation carrier, the Red Bluff Daily News reported.
He was arrested in July 2016 at a Florida airport and charged with 13 felonies, including perjury, elder theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, grand theft, workers’ compensation fraud and public officer crime.
Prosecutors told news sources at the time that Patel was in Florida because of a plan to “flee the country,” but Patel’s defense attorney said he was going on a pre-paid Disney cruise with his family that he had booked in January, the Record Searchlight reported.
His bail was initially set at $1 million because of the perceived flight risk. He agreed to surrender his passport in order to reduce the bail to $300,000 in September 2016, KRCR-TV 7 reported. He posted bail the day after it was reduced.
Last month, he pleaded guilty to two counts of public officer crime and a single count each of grand theft and workers’ compensation fraud.
Patel was appointed to the Red Bluff City Council to fill a vacancy in December 2014. He stopped attending council meetings and did not seek re-election after his arrest, the Record Searchlight reported.
In December 2016, Amanda Jenkins filled Patel's seat on council after being elected in November, the Daily News reported.