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Business owner gets prison time for comp fraud

Business owner gets prison time for comp fraud

The owner of an excavating company has been sentenced to six months in prison and three years of monitoring for workers compensation fraud, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation said Tuesday.

William Newell, owner of Bill Newell Excavating in Fairfield County, Ohio, pleaded guilty last week to a fifth-degree felony count of workers comp fraud for falsifying his insurance coverage certificate to submit bid proposals, the bureau said in a statement.

The Fairfield County Common Pleas Court sentenced him to six months in prison and three years of community control, which includes paying the bureau $5,404.90 in restitution and an obligation to provide the court proof of his premium payments, the statement says.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's Special Investigations Department began looking into Mr. Newell after receiving a tip that he submitted an altered certificate of coverage for his business, according to the statement. The investigation uncovered three additional false workers comp insurance coverage certificates that Mr. Newell submitted in bid packets.

While Mr. Newell originally denied having any knowledge of the false certificates, he eventually admitted to creating and submitting them. He also lied about only hiring subcontractors, not employees, to avoid paying workers comp premiums, investigators found.

“Businesses in Ohio are required to maintain workers compensation coverage to protect their employees and care for them if injuries occur,” bureau Administrator and CEO Steve Buehrer said in the statement. “Falsifying a coverage certificate is not only against the law, it's unfair to honest employers that are placed at a competitive disadvantage.”

The bureau is Ohio's monopoly workers comp insurer, providing coverage to more than 254,000 Ohio employers, according to the bureau's website.

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