Well Known Local Auto Repair Owner Guilty in L & I Scam
According to the Department of Labor and Industries, the owner-operator of a now-closed auto repair and customization shop has been sentenced to 30 days of home electronic monitoring for his role in a worker's comp insurance scam.
Rod's Cars is now listed as closed
The long-time shop on Clearwater was well-known in the Tri-Cities. L&I and court records indicate the owner, Rodney Eugene Dietrich, 47, had operated Rod's Cars in some form since 2004 at 3929 West Clearwater.
However, L&I released a statement Monday, July 25th, indicating Dietrich has recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge for failing to provide worker's comp insurance to his employees for a second time.
The most recent incident occurred between 2017-2019 when an investigation showed he was employing two men at the shop. One told investigators he was paid under the table, the other had traded his labor for auto parts and other items.
History of worker's comp issues
L&I said Dietrich had previous issues with worker's comp insurance. In 2016 he plead guilty to a misdemeanor for the same issues. According to L&I:
"Dietrich operated the auto shop at the same location from at least 2004. However, he changed its name, business structure, and business license number three times after each one fell behind on workers’ comp payments.
After repeated notices and warnings, L&I revoked his workers’ comp insurance on all three business entities, which meant he could no longer hire employees. Despite the revocations, an L&I investigation in 2014 found he was employing at least two workers at the shop."
This led to the 2016 issue. Then in 2017 L&I officials again noticed evidence of multiple workers at the shop, leading to the latest investigation.
Labor and Industries said besides the charges, Dietrich "owes L&I more than $40,000 in late premiums, interest and penalties, according to department records. He also owes more than $2,200 in wages and penalties for failing to pay an employee in 2013."
Dietrich plead guilty in Benton-Franklin Superior Court recently to the most recent charge. Multiple internet business searches now list the company as permanently closed, and another firm has opened up shop at that location.