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Santos Cardona of Fort Myers, FL, Arrested in $200K Workers’ Compensation Premium Fraud Case

document-agreement-documents-sign-48148-300x199Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Santos Y. Cardona this week for allegedly evading paying almost $200,000 in workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

Cardona of Fort Meyers was charged with workers’ compensation fraud and scheme to defraud. He was booked into Lee County Jail. The press did not name an attorney for him.

According to the Bureau of Insurance Fraud, financial records from a check cashing store in Fort Myers revealed that Cardona’s company, YYCS Enterprises, concealed its payroll information in order to avoid paying higher workers’ compensation premiums.

Cardona’s employees purportedly cashed over $1 million in payroll checks, but the company reported a payroll of only $59,000 to avoid paying for a more expensive workers’ compensation insurance policy. The bureau estimates that Cardona avoided paying $199,515 in insurance premiums.

“Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime that puts injured workers at risk and drives up insurance rates statewide for honest, hard-working businesses,” CFO Patronis said in a press release. “My office is committed to cracking down on fraud. I applaud the great work of our dedicated insurance fraud detectives. I encourage businesses and individuals to report suspected insurance fraud to my website at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”

Cardona was arrested and booked into jail on February 5. Patronis noted that he faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

The state of Florida requires all private employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance if their business employs four or more workers. The only exception to this rule is in the construction industry, where employers are required to obtain insurance for every worker, even if they’re hiring less than four people.

Employers can be accused of workers’ compensation fraud if they:

  • Claim their jobs are safer than they really are or intentionally misclassify workers (e.g. claiming a worker is a receptionist when they’re actually operating heavy machinery).
  • Falsely claim they have fewer workers or a lower payroll to avoid paying high insurance premiums.
  • Avoid purchasing workers’ compensation coverage altogether.

The Florida Department of Financial Services recently decided to wage war against fraud in the community. Hundreds of individuals are now arrested for allegations of workers’ compensation fraud in South Florida every year. The penalties for committing workers’ compensation fraud usually depend on the monetary loss suffered by the state. If the monetary value of the loss is:

  • Less than $20,000 is considered a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • More than $20,000 but less than $100,000 is considered a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • More than $100,000 is considered a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Employers who are being investigated by the Florida Department of Financial Services or Division of Insurance Fraud should immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss their rights and what they need to do in order to protect themselves against fraud allegations.

South Florida Workers’ Compensation Fraud Attorney

Accused of workers’ compensation fraud? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. for a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced workers’ compensation fraud defense attorneys.

Source: 2.7.20 florida business owner accused of evading $200k in workers comp premium.pdf

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