Glass Emporium VP Pleads Guilty to Illegal Immigration-Related Charges; Insurance Fraud Charges Against Her Dismissed, According to Court Documents

March 15, 2010

Glass Emporium vice president Emma DeGuzman recently pleaded guilty to charges related to harboring illegal aliens through her work at the company, according to court documents filed in the case, and, the remaining charges related to insurance fraud and engaging conspiracy to commit insurance fraud against her were dismissed.

DeGuzman and company owner Mehrdad "Tony" Hakimian had been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud, harboring illegal aliens; obstruction of justice; conspiracy to commit visa fraud; and visa fraud. (CLICK HERE for related story.) Hakimian currently is on trial. (CLICK HERE for related story.) DeGuzman issued her plea just before the trial was about to begin.DeGuzman has not yet been sentenced.

Under the conspiracy charges, the court had alleged that Hakimian and Deguzman directed the company's employees to bill insurance companies "for the cost of more expensive windshields than those installed … knowing that less expensive windshields had been installed." Likewise, the court had charged the two with directing employees to also separately charge insurance companies for mouldings, clips and installation materials, "even when those costs were included in the cost of the windshields."

On the immigration charges, to which DeGuzman has pleaded guilty, the court alleged Hakimian and DeGuzman employed both Aldy Antonio, and his wife, Luvziminda Yago, despite the fact that they were illegal aliens, but also had advised them to work from home "to avoid the immigration service from coming to the headquarters and discovering that they were wrongfully employed by Glass Emporium."

Meanwhile, according to court documents, Hakimian's counsel, William Osterhoudt of the Law Offices of William L. Osterhoudt, has asked for the jury to receive instructions advising that the fact that DeGuzman has invoked the Fifth Amendment and is not willing to testify on Hakimian's behalf should not reflect negatively on his case.

DeGuzman had been subpoenaed for her testimony "concerning her knowledge of the moving of boxes of GEMI paperwork to storage and recycling." (In the details of the obstruction of justice charges issued in mid-January, the prosecution had alleged that Hakimian and DeGuzman "did, and did attempt to, corruptly alter, destroy, mutilate, and conceal documents and records, namely, glass invoices, glass work orders, and electronically stored invoice records, with the intent to impair their integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding.")

"At the time that Ms. DeGuzman pled guilty, she was informed by the prosecution that if she elected to testify at trial on Mr. Hakimian's behalf in a manner the government believed inconsistent with their view of the facts relating to the obstruction of justice charge, they would seek to have such testimony held against her," writes Hakimian's counsel.

Hakimian's counsel says they presumed that she might do this, and had "earlier requested that the government offer Ms. DeGuzman immunity so that she could testify," and that this request was refused.

Counsel for the defendant claims that DeGuzman has important testimony about why the documents were moved to storage and recycling, and that she would testify "that the movement of boxes was innocent and innocuous; that she personally directed the move; and that she had decided which boxes must be stores and which should be destroyed or recycled."

"Finally, she would explain that it was necessary because the boxes were stacked to the ceiling and crowded the loft space of [Glass Emporium's] headquarters office, creating an unsafe environment due to weight of the boxes and fire danger," continues the defense.

Because she has not been granted immunity and has declined to testify, the defense is asking that the jury be given the following notice regarding her availability:

Witness Unavailable
Emma DeGuzman is unavailable to the defense as a witness. You should draw no adverse inference against the defendant based on Emma DeGuzman's failure to testify.

"We merely seek to inform the jury that Ms. DeGuzman's absence is not to be held against the defendant," adds Osterhoudt.

Oakland, Calif.-based Glass Emporium also owns Glass Pro and Glass Masters and has locations throughout the United States.

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