South Florida Contractor Facing Charges For Workers’ Comp Fraud
A Florida construction business owner is facing hefty charges after being arrested in connection with a fraudulent scheme that touches on both workers’ compensation and insurance laws. In a press release dated May 20, 2021, officials announced that a multi-agency investigation had revealed the man’s plan to conceal payroll information. In doing so, he was able to avoid paying more than $718,000 in workers’ comp insurance premiums. To date, the insurance company carrying the construction business’ policy had only received $27,700 in payments. Had the payroll information been properly reported as required by law, the company would have owed almost $746,000 in premiums.
However, while the investigation may have uncovered enough evidence to arrest the business owner on fraud charges, there is a much higher level of proof for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction. As such, it is wise to work with a Florida criminal defense lawyer who will employ all strategies to fight the charges. An overview of the legal concepts may also be helpful.
Allegations in a Florida Insurance Fraud Case
There is a very specific type of fraud at issue in the recent South Florida case, and it is such a complex one that many people do not even realize they are committing a crime. Policy-related or insurance premiums fraud occurs when a business intentionally conceals or manipulates information to lower premium payments. In this case, the insurance policy is for workers’ comp insurance, but it could be any type of policy where the information you provide is used by the insurer to establish premiums.
Like the construction company owner, you could face fraud charges if you:
- Report a lower number of employees than you actually have on your workforce;
- Misclassify employees as independent contractors; or
- Start a new company on paper to get better rates for workers’ compensation insurance.
Keep in mind that employees can also commit workers’ comp insurance fraud, but the charges are directed at workers who make false or misleading statements to obtain benefits.
Defenses and Options for Fighting Fraud Charges
The prosecution must prove each element of a fraud case beyond a reasonable doubt, so your first opportunity to contest the allegations will be during the “case-in-chief.” As the prosecutor presents, witnesses, exhibits, and other evidence, your strategy is to attack legal and factual weaknesses. By placing a question in the minds of the jury, you may obtain a dismissal or be acquitted. Plus, if the prosecutor realizes the evidence is weak, you might be on good footing to work out a plea bargain.
In addition, defenses to fraud charges include mistakes about the facts, a lack of intent to commit fraud, and entrapment.
Trust Your Case to Our Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorneys
This information demonstrates that there are options for fighting fraud charges, but it should also convince you that experienced legal counsel is critical from the earliest stages of the criminal process. For more information on defense strategies, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.