Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that the owner of a Red Hook-based interior painting contracting company has been charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny, failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance and other charges for allegedly stealing over $64,000 from a New York State agency that provides workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employers. The defendant misreported his company’s sales, omitting over $570,000 over a five-month period to secure lower insurance premiums, which he then failed to pay.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant, the owner of a contracting company, defrauded and stole from an agency meant to protect New York’s workers. He then left his own workers, performing physical and demanding jobs, without coverage and dangerously vulnerable to the financial costs associated with workplace injury. These charges are a reflection of our commitment to protecting Brooklyn’s workers – in the construction industry and in all sectors of the borough’s economy.”
“NYSIF front-line staff are trained to look for red flags and inaccuracies, which can also result in stopping fraudulent activity before it starts,” stated NYSIF Director of Confidential Investigations John W. Dormin. “In this case, the fraudulent behavior was discovered by a thorough NYSIF auditor reviewing payroll records and reports. NYSIF will continue to use every tool at its disposal. Thank you to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office for partnering with us to root out workers’ compensation fraud.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Vasillios Georgiadis, aka William Georgiadis, 64, of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, and his company, Coronet Gotham LLC (“Coronet Gotham”), located at 142 King Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The defendants were charged today with second-degree insurance fraud, second-degree grand larceny, failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance, fraudulent practices, first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and making a punishable false written statement. The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which he is charged.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on November 19, 2013, defendant Coronet Gotham submitted an application to the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) for workers’ compensation insurance, bearing the signature of defendant Georgiadis, listed as Principal, and stating that Coronet Gotham was an interior painting contracting company. NYSIF is a New York State agency that provides guaranteed workers’ compensation insurance coverage at the lowest possible cost for employers in New York State. NYSIF is required to provide coverage to any employer who seeks it and is the largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance in the State.
According to the investigation, NYSIF issued a workers’ compensation policy to Coronet Gotham, based on its application, effective November 20, 2013. Approximately seven months later, on June 23, 2014, NYSIF cancelled the policy for nonpayment of premiums. On August 21, 2014, as part of a routine audit of cancelled policies, an NYSIF auditor conducted an audit of Coronet Gotham’s gross sales for the seven month period of coverage (November 20, 2013 to June 23, 2014) to calculate any premiums owed by Coronet Gotham to NYSIF. NYSIF determines premiums for construction companies based on the company’s reported gross sales.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, during the August 21, 2014 audit, defendant Georgiadis stated that he was the sole partner for Coronet Gotham and that the company had gross sales of $58,000 for the audit period, all resulting from one contract with Stasi/Dallas Electrical Contracting Inc. (“Stasi/Dallas”), a general contracting firm for which Coronet Gotham was a subcontractor. Georgiadis showed the auditor monthly bank statements for the audit period showing total deposits of $58,000 and signed a form stating that Coronet Gotham’s sales totaled $58,000 for the audit period. Approximately three months later, on November 13, 2014, NYSIF granted Coronet Gotham a new workers’ compensation policy, for which it gave Coronet Gotham a credit of $1,090.85, based on results of the previous audit. On February 16, 2015, NYSIF canceled this policy, again for nonpayment of premium.
According to the investigation, a separate audit of Stasi/Dallas covering the period from November 20, 2013 to April 11, 2014, showed that Coronet Gotham had in fact submitted invoices to Stasi/Dallas for work performed by Coronet Gotham during that period, and that Georgiadis had cashed checks from Stasi/Dallas payable to Coronet Gotham totaling $628,278, which was over $570,000 more than the $58,000 in sales that Georgiadis had reported to NYSIF for that period. Based on this, NYSIF determined that it would not have given Coronet Gotham a credit of $1.090.85 toward the policy issued in November 2014, but would have required the defendants to pay an additional $64,842.82 – which constituted a theft of $64,842.82 from the agency.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Meredith McGowan, Deputy Unit Chief of the District Attorney’s Labor Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.
A criminal complaint is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.