Authorities arrested the owner of a Queens trucking company and one of his workers for falsifying documents that led to more than $216,000 in alleged workers’ compensation fraud against the New York State Insurance Fund.
Investigators from the Queens District Attorney’s Office arrested John Constanza, president of Stanza Trucking, Inc., on May 16, 2017, and charged him with fraudulent practices in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Law and offering a false instrument for filing, both felonies.
Investigators said the Queens resident allegedly underreported payroll for his trucking company from July 2012 through July 2015 to avoid paying the correct insurance premium to NYSIF. Mr. Constanza allegedly claimed he worked alone in his business and had no employees.
However, on May 16, 2017, investigators also arrested Miguel Bennazar-Davila, a NYSIF claimant who was charged with workers’ compensation fraudulent practices, offering a false instrument for filing and grand larceny in connection with working off the books for Stanza Trucking while collecting workers’ compensation benefits from NYSIF at the same time.
The investigation revealed Mr. Constanza employed several trucks and drivers, whom he paid in cash, expenses allegedly listed in accounting ledgers as fuel costs for his business. As a result, Mr. Constanza allegedly underpaid NYSIF by more than $158,000 in insurance premiums.
Mr. Bennazar-Davila, of Queens, filed a workers’ compensation claim with NYSIF for an injury that occurred in May 2012. He allegedly continued to collect workers’ compensation benefits after he began working as a driver for Stanza Trucking on July 1, 2013, making more than $700 a week, according to investigators. During that time, he submitted forms to NYSIF attesting that he was not working.
Investigators said the amount of alleged fraud by Mr. Bennazar-Davila is at least $58,000, and as a result of his arrest, the potential savings on his claim is $152,805.
The investigation was a joint effort conducted by NYSIF’s Division of Confidential Investigations, the Department of Financial Services and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.