Fraud News: Arson, Workers’ Comp Premium Evasion, Hurricane Isaac Scam

May 16, 2017
Washington Firm Owes $12K for Trying to Skip Out on Paying Workers’ Comp Premiums

The co-owner of a Mill Creek housecleaning business has been ordered to pay the state more than $11,700 for trying to evade workers’ comp insurance bills.

Blake Joseph Standley, of Bothell, pleaded guilty last week to third-degree theft and attempted false reporting, both gross misdemeanor offenses.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent sentenced Standley to 364 days in jail, but suspended all but 15 days, which were converted to community service. Standley will face additional penalties if he commits a new crime or fails to follow restitution requirements in the next two years.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on an investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Charges are still pending against Monica Ann Covey-Standley, who was married to Blake at the time of the incidents, and ran their company’s daily operations.

Standley filed reports to L&I in 2013 and 2014, claiming he had no employees in his housecleaning business, known as Kogaty Interiors.

However, an L&I investigation uncovered bank records showing the company was paying employees to clean houses during that time. Employees told investigators they worked for the company, and provided wage and tax statements, along with time sheets as proof.

According to charging papers, the couple should have paid nearly $12,000 in workers’ comp premiums.

The theft charge stems from Standley’s failure to pay an employee for about two weeks’ worth of work cleaning houses in 2014. The worker told investigators that the couple ignored her emails and messages, and hung up whenever she called.

She filed a wage complaint to L&I, which determined the Standleys owed her about $1,000. Last week, Blake Standley paid the worker half of the wages, $515. Prosecutors will seek the remainder from Covey-Standley, who is scheduled to be tried on June 9.

Louisiana Woman Sentenced for Stealing Nearly $11k From FEMA

A New Orleans, La., area woman has been sentenced in federal court for stealing nearly $11,000 in disaster-assistance money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

News outlets report 42-year-old Danielle Randall of Gretna was sentenced Thursday to 15-months in prison after pleading guilty to theft of federal funds. Randall was ordered to pay restitution.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Randall started submitting applications to FEMA following Hurricane Isaac in 2012. She initially received $3,000 in damages and then filed false submissions for nearly $11,000.

According to Orleans Parish court records, Randall was already serving a one-year sentence after pleading guilty March 15 to aggravated assault with a firearm.

New Jersey Diner Owners Who Burned it Down for Insurance Get Probation

The owners of a New Jersey diner who burned it down to collect insurance money have been spared prison terms.

Forty-nine-year-old Tina Diakos and 40-year-old Ozkan Cengiz were both sentenced to five years of probation on Friday. They had each pleaded guilty to arson charges in March.

Sussex County prosecutors say the pair decided to burn down the Jerzeez Diner in Vernon because it wasn’t doing well and they were also facing the cost of replacing its septic system. So they drove from their home in Butler and set the diner on fire in March 2016.

No one was injured in the fire.

Besides their probation sentences, Diakos and Cengiz were also ordered to pay $323,000 overall in restitution and perform community service.

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