Lapsed policy, refusal to cooperate costs Holland man
By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer
Eric L. Hughes, 53, of Holland, pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud May 19 after failing to renew his BWC policy despite repeated attempts by the agency to bring him into compliance. A Lucas County judge ordered Holland to pay BWC $56,959 in restitution and serve three years of community control (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.”
According to BWC’s special investigations department, Hughes worked as a handyman and general contractor on residential and commercial buildings, usually with just one employee. But after securing a sizable 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 later fired him after learning of the lapse.
A BWC audit in 2018 determined Hughes owed the agency nearly $57,000 in past premiums, based largely off his payroll for the time he worked on the roofing job.
Clark Howard, 35, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud in a Franklin County courtroom.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.