Orange County businessman Joseph Alvarez named one of his companies in honor of a Biblical passage (Philippians 4:13 LLC), but such religious sentiment didn’t stop him from systemically shortchanging 17 of his employees at senior assisted living facilities.
A United States Department of Labor investigation discovered that while owning Agape Cottages, Inc. and Agape Cottage Care Partners LLC, Alvarez failed to pay legally mandated overtime of nearly $200,000 from 2014 to 2016.
In March of 2015, government investigators ordered him to pay the money and get each employee to sign a form certifying receipt.
(Non-exempt employees must be paid time and a half for any work over 40 hours in a week.)
Alvarez paid the funds, got the employees to sign the form and then added a twist that eventually landed him in criminal trouble with federal prosecutors: He demanded the employees secretly return all of their overtime pay to him, claiming the money rightfully belonged to his company.
Facing a maximum punishment of six months imprisonment, he signed a guilty plea deal last year and hoped for leniency.
The defendant’s lawyer argued last month to U.S. Magistrate Judge Doug McCormick inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana that Alvarez proposed adding one homeless person at each of his six facilities in exchange for no incarceration.
McCormick determined the appropriate punishment is a $10,000 fine, participation in a home detention program for six months plus electronic monitoring and supervised probation for two years.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; featured in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.