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Sunland Interior Designer Sentenced for State Income Tax Fraud and Insurance Fraud

Released: November 19, 2009

Sacramento - A Sunland interior designer was sentenced after pleading guilty to one felony count of state income tax fraud and one felony count of insurance fraud, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) said.

According to court documents, Ronald E. Hunt, 56, continued working as an interior designer from 2003 to 2006 including an appearance on an HGTV home improvement show during the time he claim to be disabled. An employee with the private insurance company paying Hunt’s disability saw the show and alerted the California Department of Insurance (CDI). An investigation confirmed Hunt intentionally and knowingly concealed his secondary employment from his disability insurance company by falsifying written statements and deceiving a company field representative. During the time Hunt claimed to be disabled, he collected more than $400,500 in income as an interior designer while also collecting $147,600 in disability benefits. Hunt also failed to report this income on his state income tax returns for these same years.

Hunt was ordered to pay $151,700 restitution to the private insurance company and $31,000 to FTB representing the unpaid tax, penalties, interest and the cost of the investigation. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and 60 months of probation.

Judge David M. Horwitz handed down the sentence Tuesday, Nov. 17, in Department 50 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Berton prosecuted the case. This was a joint investigation between the CDI and FTB.

For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit www.taxes.ca.gov.