LANCASTER – The owner of a Fairfield County excavating company has admitted to falsifying his workers’ compensation insurance coverage certificate in order to submit bid proposals to the city of Lancaster. William Newell, of Pleasantville, pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud and must repay more than $5,000 to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
“Businesses in Ohio are required to maintain workers’ compensation coverage to protect their employees and care for them if injuries occur,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Falsifying a coverage certificate is not only against the law, it’s unfair to honest employers that are placed at a competitive disadvantage.”
BWC’s Special Investigations Department opened an investigation into Newell after receiving a tip that he submitted an altered BWC certificate of coverage for his business, Bill Newell Excavating, as part of a bid proposal to the city of Lancaster. After the city notified him he needed to obtain coverage in order to submit bids, Newell submitted all outstanding payroll reports to BWC indicating he did not have any employees or payroll. He also paid past due premiums and fees in order to become compliant and receive a valid certificate of coverage.
Through the investigation, BWC’s employer fraud team obtained three additional false certificates that Newell submitted in bid packets during recent years. When interviewed, Newell initially denied having any knowledge of the false certificates but later admitted creating and submitting them. During the interview Newell stated that he always had employees, but later stated he did not have employees and hired sub-contractors.
The investigation ultimately found that Newell did have employees and that he underreported his payroll in order to avoid paying premiums.
Newell entered a guilty plea to one fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud on Nov. 17 in the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas. He was sentenced to a six month prison term, suspended for three years of community control. The conditions of his community control include a restitution payment of $5,404.90 to BWC, and a continuing obligation to provide the court proof of his premium payments.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, follow Fraud Fridays on Twitter @OhioBWCFraud, or join in the conversation at facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud. View and share BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on our YouTube channel.
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