Local Construction Firm Owner Admits to Workers Comp Fraud

The owner of a Bay Area-based construction company is facing jail time, probation and about $250,000 in restitution fees for cheating the workers’ compensation insurance system and wrongfully firing injured workers.

Man Tat Szeto, 71, who owns MT Szeto Construction, admitted to his illegal behavior after multiple former employees reported in late 2018 they’d been fired after asking for medical treatment for injuries they sustained at work. Those employees also reported they often worked unpaid overtime, clocking upwards of 70 hours in a week, but only being paid for 40 hours.

But after a long week of overtime in a physically demanding industry, if a worker injured themselves while on the job and then told their boss, Szeto had a habit of simply handing the employee cash and then terminating them, rather than file a claim and risking an insurance premium increase, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

“When unscrupulous employers refuse to pay fair hourly wages, cheat on taxes, and cover-up workplace injuries, they exploit vulnerable individuals as well as our community which must bear the cost of illegality,” Deputy District Attorney Mattia Corsiglia said in a prepared statement.

The DA got involved in the case after the California Contractors State License Board reported “suspicious activity” at a new—but so far unnamed—residential construction project in San Jose.

Szeto avoided about $86,000 in premium payments to his insurer by not reporting such injuries between 2016 and 2019, according to the DA’s office. He also laundered $165,000 by paying employees off “off the books.”

As part of his plea agreement, Szeto was charged with unemployment insurance tax fraud and money laundering and will spend five years on probation, nine months in county jail and pay restitution of approximately $250,000.

Janice Bitters is managing editor for Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.


  1. John, I was a work comp fraud investigator fir 30 years. There is no selective enforcement. These guys are ripping off the taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars a year. They are the scum of the earth and everyone gets prosecuted. The fact that they hire undocumented workers is even more proof of their thriving ways because the taxpayers have to pay for their treatment when they are injured on the job. I suspect the irs will be coming after him next. He will lose his contractors license and will not be able to bid on any public works projects.

  2. Is ANYbody who hires an undocumented worker “scum of the earth”? If so, then what kind of position are we putting undocumenteds in when we effectively invite them to reside here by declaring ourselves a “sanctuary city”? What do we expect them to do for work if we’re focused on prosecuting anyone who would hire them?

  3. If the employer is “scum of the earth” for taking a job away from a legal worker then isn’t the undocumented worker also “scum of the earth” for exactly the same reason?
    Just trying to understand yours and the DA’s logic.

  4. Hey all boss is in the United States know if they got a guy working for him under any circumstances even for one day and that guy or gal gets her he hast to pay Workmen’s Comp. I got a double shoulder injury I’m waiting for my third surgery and ny Workmen’s Compensation‘s Insurance carrier
    Isre so dishonest and cheating and intimidating and try to charge your private insurance company for all kinds of things they should pay these guys every penny that’s what it’s for and the bosses know it

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