Small Business Owes Big Money to Ohio Workers' Comp Bureau

A Baltimore, Ohio couple pled no contest to misdemeanor charges that they failed to pay workers' compensation premiums, and will be expected to repay some $211,847 in unpaid premiums.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC), said Oliver and Amery Runyon, owners of Runyon Tree Service, were each charged with "failure to comply with the law" for not paying workers' compensation premiums since 1996. Both were sentenced to 30 days incarceration and court costs. The incarceration was suspended provided both Runyons demonstrate good behavior for two years.

In addition, the court ordered Runyon Tree Service "to comply with all BWC directives and orders," thereby giving BWC the right to recover $211,847 in unpaid premiums owed by Runyon Tree Service.

"This case proves that Ohio will not tolerate companies who fail to protect their employees by not paying their premiums," said James Conrad, BWC CEO and administrator. "BWC will continue to aggressively uncover anyone that attempts to defraud Ohio's workers' compensation system and its taxpaying citizens."

Runyon Tree Service was contacted by BWC's special investigations unit (SIU) for repeatedly failing to pay workers' compensation premiums, but the employer denied it was in business. However, in June 2000, the SIU received an anonymous tip stating that the employer was still open without workers' compensation coverage.

Through surveillance, the SIU was able to prove that Runyon Tree Service was in business. On May 2, 2002, an affidavit was filed with the Fairfield Municipal Court charging the company with failure to comply with the law.

In fiscal year 2002, BWC's SIU uncovered $98.8 million in savings from fraudulent activity, including $1.7 million in premium savings. It referred 312 subjects for criminal prosecution.

The average take in a fraudulent workers' compensation case is $35,000.

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