Contractor Must Pay Restitution for Lapsed Coverage
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | 557 | 0 | 13 min read
A Toledo-area building contractor must pay almost $57,000 in restitution to Ohio's state-monopoly workers' compensation program after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges, regulators announced.
Eric Hughes, 53, of Holland, was charged with felony fraud after failing to renew his workers' compensation policy, despite repeated attempts by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to bring him into compliance, the bureau said. A Lucas County judge ordered Hughes to pay the restitution and serve three years of probation.
“Ducking his legal obligation to protect his workers clearly didn’t pay for Mr. Hughes,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “He could have resolved this issue fairly easily when we first contacted him in 2017, and we would have given him a payment plan to boot. Now he’s got a $57,000 debt and a felony record.”
The BWC's fraud investigation unit said Hughes worked as a handyman and general contractor, usually with just one employee. But after winning a contract to replace a roof on a fire-damaged building in 2017, he hired a crew of eight to 10 workers and started the job while his BWC policy was still lapsed. The company that hired Hughes fired him after learning of the lapse, the BWC said.
A BWC audit in 2018 determined Hughes owed the agency nearly $57,000 in past premiums, based largely on his payroll for the time he worked on the roofing job.
Also, a Springfield man must pay BWC $13,518 in restitution after agency investigators found him working in a machine shop and at a restaurant while collecting comp benefits.
Clark Howard, 35, pleaded guilty last week to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud, the agency said.