New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announced recently the arrests of four Central New York and Southern Tier business owners on fraud and theft charges as part of an ongoing series of investigations into employers and employees who defraud the State Workers Compensation system.
Under State law, employers are required to maintain workers comp coverage for their employees, and employees are expected to provide truthful information regarding their work activity to insurance carriers and the Workers Compensation Board during the time they are receiving benefits.
According to authorities, the defendants are accused of using fraud and deceit to undermine their legal and moral responsibilities.
Douglas S. Griffen, 53, Ithaca, owner of Fingerlakes Excavating LLC, was charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, felonies, as well as the Workers Compensation crimes of Fraudulent Practices, a felony, and Failure to Secure Compensation, a misdemeanor. Inspector General Leahy Scott’s investigation found that Griffen, last summer, provided a Tompkins County home building company false documents that purported to show that his own company had valid workers compensation coverage in order to qualify for two construction contracts with the home builder worth $72,000. Griffin had no workers comp coverage and would not have been awarded the contracts if he had not provided the false documents to the home builder. Griffen was arraigned in Ithaca City Court and sent to Tompkins County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond bail and is due back in court.
Roger Camby, 60, Syracuse, owner of an online retail candle business, was charged with the workers comp crime of Fraudulent Practices, Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree and Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, all felonies. Inspector General Leahy Scott’s investigation found that Camby, a former truck driver out from work on a workers comp claim since 2010, was operating several businesses while certifying to the Workers Compensation Board that he was not working in any capacity. Between early 2011 and the summer of 2013 he received more than $56,000 in workers comp benefits while also running a candle business, Lovesoy Candles and Gifts, as well as working as a consultant for three multi-level marketing businesses. Camby was arraigned in Town of Tully Court and was due to appear in Syracuse City Court.
John A. Francher, 73, Auburn, owner of the Greenbriar Home for Adults in Homer, was charged with the workers comp crime of Effect of Failure to Secure Compensation, a felony. Inspector General Leahy Scott’s investigation found that Francher operated a business with more than five employees without obtaining required workers comp coverage. He employed approximately 10 people at the Greenbrier Home. Francher was previously convicted in February 2014 of a misdemeanor charge of failure to secure compensation at Briarcliff Manor in Bath. Francher was arraigned in Town of Homer Court and was due back in court.
Steven M. Spratley, 58, Walton, owner of Spratley and Sons Tree Surgeons, was charged with Fraudulent Practices, a felony under the Workers Compensation Law. Inspector General Leahy Scott’s investigation found that Spratley falsely denied at a 2013 Workers Compensation Board hearing that a man who was severely injured while working for him in 2011 was actually an employee. The investigation found that Spratley made the false statements to avoid liability for the employee’s claim for workers comp due to the injury, which made him unable to work. Spratley is due to appear in the Town of North Norwich Court at a future date.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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