California Business Owner Convicted of Insurance Fraud

Here’s a word of advice for you: If you’re a business owner, make sure you’re accurately reporting your payroll on your workers compensation insurance policy. If you are using subcontractors/ independent contractors to perform services for your clients, you must obtain a certificate of insurance from these contractors confirming they carry their own workers compensation insurance coverage. If not, you may be liable for any losses that occur as a result of the services they are performing for your business.

Here’s a friendly reminder that it doesn’t pay to cheat the system:

California insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, announced in a press release on 2/23 the conviction of a California business owner for insurance fraud and perjury. The case involves a $1.6 Million penalty for failure to pay premiums and failure to accurately report payroll.

Ronald J. Haas Sr., 69, has been convicted on 10 counts of insurance fraud for failing to accurately report payroll and for failing to pay insurance premiums to his workers’ compensation insurance carriers.  Haas was sentenced to one year in the county jail and restitution to the entities involved, and three years probation.

“Workers’ compensation insurance fraud is an egregious offense and it will be fully investigated by my Department,” said Commissioner Dave Jones. “Those who would seek to cheat a fund to help workers who were legitimately injured will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

On January 12, 2007, State Compensation Insurance Fund Special (SCIF) reported a suspected fraudulent claim to the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division for investigation of suspected workers’ compensation insurance premium fraud. The report alleged that Haas, President of R J Haas Construction Corporation, et al., Saratoga, CA, failed to accurately report employee payroll to his workers’ compensation insurance carrier, SCIF. From July 1, 1998 to June 1, 2005, Haas claimed that he had no employees and that sub-contractors did all the work for his company. However, during this period, four workers’ compensation claims were filed by injured employees. Haas reported payroll to SCIF only after an injury was discovered and then payroll reporting stopped shortly thereafter, with the cancellation of his policy. Subsequently, Haas obtained workers compensation insurance policies through First Comp and again reported minimal to no employees.

An investigation by the Silicon Valley Regional Office of the California Department of Insurance, Fraud Division and the California Employment Development Department (EDD) revealed that Haas misrepresented office staff, project superintendents, foremen, and even some of his own family members as subcontractors. A forensic audit was conducted and revealed that Haas owed $594,293.22 in insurance premiums to SCIF, $229,167.71 in insurance premiums to First Comp and $813,328.27 to EDD for failing to accurately report employee payroll for the purpose of determining employment tax liabilities.

On April 29, 2009, Haas was arrested for felony violations of Insurance Code. Haas is eligible to apply for a home electronic monitoring program in lieu of county jail time. At time of sentencing Haas had already paid the full amount of restitution owed to insurance carriers SCIF and First Comp and to EDD.

Source: California Department of Insurance

-JK

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About Jim Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jim is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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