Two business owners pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and forgery as part of a $54 million workers’ compensation scheme, the California Department of Insurance reported.
Wesley Owens was the owner and CEO of Bison Workforce Solutions, a professional employer organization based out of Atlanta. The department said its investigation found the company failed to pay about $29 million in premiums and billed customers out of $25.5 million in fees they thought they were paying for compensation coverage.
The investigation found that Mr. Owens would obtain workers’ compensation insurance for his company, Bison, and then use the documents the insurance company provided it to generate fraudulent proof of insurance, which they would issue to customers, the department said.
“The insurance company was told that the policy was to cover a small white-collar business, not … the customers̵7; business, which included farm laborers, roofers, limousine drivers and a variety of other employees,” the department said.
The investigation also found that Beau Wilson, who was aware of the fraud, recruited customers to Bison and received a commission for each customer who used the fraudulent services. Bison was eventually unable to secure insurance coverage from any insurer, at which point it contracted with another company that already had an insurance policy, which Mr. Owens used to generate fake certificates.
“To conceal the fact that its policies were being misused to insure (its) customers, Bison began paying claims itself,” the department said. “When the expense of this became too much for the company to bear, it eventually stopped paying out claims, leaving workers exposed by workers’ compensation insurance and without resources after being injured on the job.”
Both men will be sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to perform 60 days of community service, the department said. They will also be fined $350,000 each. Additionally, both agreed to pay $14.15 million in restitution while on probation.
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