Indian American Former Councilman Sentenced in Fraud Case
Suren Patel, the former owner of the American Best Valley Inn in Red Bluff, was caught in 2017 trying to flee the country.
An Indian American former councilman in Red Bluff, California, was sentenced to a five-year, eight-month suspended prison sentence and placed on probation for five years on four felony charges.
Suren Patel, 44, the former owner of the American Best Valley Inn in Red Bluff, was sentenced by Tehama County Superior Court Judge Matthew C. McGlynn on Feb. 22. Patel pleaded guilty to a workers’ compensation fraud, grand theft and two counts of public officer crime in November 2017. He was arrested in Florida in July 2016 trying to flee the United States.
He will have to do 80 hours of community service and pay more than $12,500 in restitution, the Redding Record Searchlight report said. Any violation of the parole will result in Patel facing roughly eight years in prison, it added.
Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen had argued that Patel “deserved” jail time and that he was disappointed with the result.
The Indian American man was initially charged with seven criminal counts that included perjury, elder theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, not paying taxes to the city, and fraud.
He was being investigated since June 2015 when investigators seized computers, cell phones and business records. His offices were examined by a forensic auditor from the state to analyze the insurance fraud allegations.
According to the investigators, Patel allowed people to commit welfare fraud. They said they also found evidence of theft from the city through the transit occupancy tax. Previously, the prosecutors had filed a complaint listing 13 felony charges for defrauding the city of Red Bluff of nearly $20,000.
Patel was appointed to the city council in December 2014. He was jailed in Brevard County, Florida, on $250,000 bail, after the investigators stopped him from leaving the country.
“It’s a sad circumstance to be in,” Red Bluff city manager Rick Crabtree had said in a Redding.com report in September 2016. “Allegations that a council member has been literally stealing money from the city. It is obviously not a circumstance we’re happy about. It’s disappointing.”