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Half Moon Bay hemp farmer sentenced for failure to pay workers, taxes

HALF MOON BAY (BCN/CBS SF) -- A man charged with theft of labor, tax evasion and failure to maintain workers' compensation insurance for farm workers was sentenced to 364 days in jail, the San Mateo District Attorney's Office announced on Monday.

David Wayne Jenkins pleaded no contest to charges related to his failure to pay farm workers on his Half Moon Bay hemp farm from December of 2020 to January of 2021, the DA said. Jenkins also pleaded no contest to failing to transmit taxes withheld from his employees' wages and failing to maintain workers comp insurance.

Jenkins opened his hemp farm in 2019 and employed between 30 and 40 employees under the business name Castle Management, the DA said.

Initially, Jenkins paid employees and withheld taxes from his employees' paychecks but never registered his business with the Employment Development Department (EDD), nor did he transfer any withheld taxes to the EDD from April of 2020 to November of 2020.

At the beginning of December of 2020, because his business was reportedly failing, Jenkins stopped paying his employees all together. Employees continued to work, unpaid, through January 29, 2021, when investigators with the Labor Commissioner's Office intervened.

Jenkins was subsequently charged with a felony complaint of with theft of labor, tax evasion and failure to maintain worker's comp insurance.

As part of a plea deal, Jenkins agreed to plead no contest to two felony counts of grand theft of labor, one felony count of failure to transmit taxes, and one misdemeanor count of failing to maintain workers comp insurance.

Jenkins will serve his 364 days concurrently with a two-year prison term from an unrelated case, the DA said. He is also ordered to pay restitution of $55,761 to the workers comp insurance company, $500 for unpaid wages, $332 to three former employees for out-of-pocket costs due to injuries they suffered on the job, and $7,576 for unpaid tax withholdings. The defendant has already paid $127,944.78 in restitution for unpaid wages to 31 former employees and $31,000 in unpaid taxes to the EDD.

"The theft of hard-earned wages is unconscionable and must have consequences," said Lilia Garcia-Brower of the California Labor Commission.

The District Attorney's Office also expressed gratitude to Judith Guerrero of Coastside Hope in El Granada, which is an agency that advocates for immigrants and people who are undocumented. The DA said that Guerrero is the person who first brought the matter to the office's attention.

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