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Owner of moving company charged with felony fraud 

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's office has indicted Mark Frey, owner of ASAP Movers, on three counts of felony insurance and tax fraud.

In court documents, the district attorney says Frey made "knowingly false and fraudulent" statements to the state insurance fund between October 2002 and June 2004. The other two counts accuse Frey of tax evasion - for allegedly filing a false return to avoid unemployment insurance taxes - and tax fraud - for allegedly not collecting and paying unemployment insurance.

In all, state investigators say Frey defrauded the state a total of $96,617.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Von Dohlen said his department joined forces with the state's Employment Development Department and the California Department of Insurance to investigate Frey.

"It only made sense [to work with them] based on the documentation [Frey] submitted to those agencies," Von Dohlen said.

Neither the district attorney's office nor the state's Department of Insurance could provide, by the time New Times went to press, the number of county businesses prosecuted for unemployment tax fraud in the last five years.

But Von Dohlen did have one observation: "From my point of view, there's been an increase in scrutiny [of insurance fraud] over the last five years because people see it as a problem."

ASAP Movers has been around since 2002. In 2004, Frey told the Tribune he employed 44 and ASAP made the second largest number of moves, compared to other county businesses.

Tipped off by that story, state investigators say the number moves ASAP claimed did not match the payroll Frey was supposedly reporting. In 2004, they served search warrants on Frey's business and home and came away with documents that they say prove the alleged fraud.

Frey pleaded not guilty to the charges on Aug. 15. His lawyer, Gregory Jacobson, declined to comment for this story.

-Abraham Hyatt

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