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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

L.A. City Attorney Files Criminal Charges in Car Wash Case

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo today announced that he has filed a 176-count criminal complaint against two Los Angeles car wash owners, a manager, and their four car wash businesses, for repeatedly and willfully violating labor laws and creating a work environment that bordered on indentured servitude.

The complaint, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges car wash owners Benny and Nissan Pirian, their four car wash businesses, and manager Manuel Reyes, routinely ignored wage, hour, and rest break laws, forced workers to drink non-potable water, and required employees to purchase uniforms and equipment from their bosses, in violation of numerous laws.

The four car wash businesses named in the criminal complaint are: Celebrity Car Wash, Inc. (901 N. Vine Street, Hollywood), Five Star Car Wash, Inc. (9240 Reseda Blvd, Northridge), Hollywood Car Wash, Inc. (6200 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood), and Vermont Hand Wash, Inc. (1666 N. Vermont, Los Feliz).

The owners, Benny and Nissan Pirian, are each charged with 172 counts of California Labor and Penal Code violations. If convicted on all counts, the Pirians each face nearly 86 years in county jail, and $136,000 in fines. The manager, Manuel Reyes, faces 2 counts each of witness intimidation and brandishing a deadly weapon, which carries a maximum penalty of 2 ½ years in county jail, and $3,000 in fines.

"With this lawsuit, the City Attorney is sending a clear message: wage theft is a crime, and it won't be tolerated in Los Angeles," said Kevin Kish, Director of the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek Legal Services the legal-aid organization. Bet Tzedek attorneys are representing employees of Pirian-owned car washes in a class-action suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The City Attorney's press release can be found here.

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