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2 Men Face Almost 500 Counts Of Engineering Fraud Across 50 Cities

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two men have been charged with 487 counts of forgery and grand theft in a wide-ranging case of engineering fraud spanning seven Southern California counties.

Wilfrido Rodriguez, 46, of Downey, and Ruben Gutierrez, 43, of Huntington Beach, will be arraigned Wednesday after being arrested Tuesday at their homes. Rodriguez is being held on $15.6 million bail, while Gutierrez is being held on $7.2 million bail.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators say that between 2003 and 2014, Gutierrez and Rodriguez prepared fraudulent structural engineering plan set pages, structural observation reports and structural calculation sets in the name of their former employer, Palos Verdes Engineering. Rodriguez had worked as an engineering drafter and Gutierrez was an architectural designer at the firm, but neither were licensed architects or civil engineers, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Palos Verdes Engineering is considered a victim in this crime, along with the more than 700 victims who had used Gutierrez and Rodriguez's services for renovations and construction of their one- and two-story homes, duplexes, triplexes, and in some cases, commercial structures in more than 50 cities.

Charges were only filed in the case on Feb. 27 due to the large number of counts, victims and search warrants that had to be executed.

"It took that long to get charges put together," Los Angeles County sheriff's Detective Todd Zerbel said. "It was very voluminous."

If convicted as charged, Rodriguez faces up to 152 years in state prison, while Gutierrez faces a possible maximum sentence of 105 years, according to prosecutors.

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