Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently announced the arrest of Maira Chirinos, owner of Pompano Beach construction company Tocoa Builders Inc.
Chirinos is alleged to have misrepresented information regarding Tocoa Builder’s operations, employees and payroll when applying for a workers compensation policy. By doing so, Chirinos avoided at least $1.8 million in workers comp premium payments.
The Florida Department of Financial Services, which operates under the direction of CFO Atwater, began investigating Chirinos for violating a “stop work” order.
This initial investigation provided authorities with information that exposed Chirinos’ larger scheme of knowingly falsifying information to avoid paying for an adequate workers compensation policy. As a result, a second investigation was opened, led by the Department’s Bureau of Workers Compensation Compliance and Division of Insurance Fraud.
Defendant Lied in Obtaining Policy
Investigators discovered that Chirinos lied when obtaining a workers comp insurance policy from Madison Insurance Company to cover Tocoa Builders Inc. She did so by grossly under reporting the company’s payroll, number of employees, and day-to-day operations. During the dates represented on the policy paperwork, more than $11 million in payroll checkers were cashed, far more than the $76,000 that was reported.
Chirinos used a Broward County money service business to cash her company’s payroll checks; a common method of circumventing workers comp statutes. By misrepresenting the amount of Tocoa Builder’s payroll, employees and the businesses operations Chirinos was able to avoid more than $1.8 million in workers’ compensation premium dues.
Chirinos was arrested without incident and charged with workers comp premium fraud and grand theft, both of which are first degree felonies.
This case will be prosecuted by the Office of State Attorney Michael J. Satz of the 17th Judicial Circuit and if convicted, Chirinos faces up to 20 years in prison.
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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