Mass. Painter Gets Coated on Obstruction Charges

September 8, 2004

An Agawam, Massachusetts paint contractor was convicted this week in federal court for reportedly obstructing a federal racketeering investigation.

United States Attorney Michael Sullivan; Kenneth Kaiser, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Joseph Galasso, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, announced that Carmen Romeo, 40, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor to obstructing a Grand Jury investigation into public corruption and organized crime allegations involving Todd Illingsworth. Illingsworth previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for his participation in a racketeering enterprise involving gambling within the City of Springfield.

During the plea hearing, it was revealed that Illingsworth had been employed as a painter at Vincent Romeo Painting Company and MCDI beginning in May, 1999. Romeo operated Vincent Romeo Painting Company.

On January 18, 2000, Illingsworth became involved in a minor car accident. Illingsworth reportedly approached Romeo’s brother, Mark Romeo, and asked Mark Romeo if he could work under the table at Vincent Romeo Painting Company while he pursued disability claims through the two automobile insurance carriers, Commerce Insurance and Premier Insurance.

Mark Romeo reportedly agreed and told Illingsworth to obtain someone’s date of birth and social security number so that Vincent Romeo Painting Company could pay Illingsworth his weekly wages in the name of a fictitious employee. Illingsworth reportedly did as he was instructed, and thereafter Vincent Romeo Painting Company paid Illingsworth his wages in the name of a fictitious employee from late January, 2000 through June 15, 2000.

To assist Illingsworth in his disability claims, Romeo reportedly falsely certified to two insurance companies, Commerce Insurance Co. and Premier Insurance Co., that Illingsworth had been unable to work from late January, 2000 through June 15, 2000 due to the automobile accident. In fact, Romeo was fully knowledgeable that Illingsworth was working during that time frame, and that he was being paid through the name of a fictitious employee. As a result, Commerce Insurance Co. paid $8,200 on the disability claim, and Premier Insurance Co. paid $18,500 on the disability claim.

As a result of the grand jury investigation, on Nov. 20, 2001, a grand jury subpoena for payroll information relating to Illingsworth was issued to Vincent Romeo Painting Co. Romeo reportedly obstructed justice by withholding the canceled checks issued to Illingsworth in the name of the fictitious employee.

On Dec. 27, 2001, a second request was made of Vincent Romeo Company to provide any and all canceled checks issued to Todd Illingsworth. On Jan. 6, 2002, Romeo again reportedly withheld the canceled checks issued to Illingsworth in the name of the fictitious employee. Romeo also sent the federal Grand Jury a cover letter stating that Illingsworth had been “out of work due to personal injury for a period of 4 months in the year 2000.” On March 28, 2002, after its third request, the Grand Jury subsequently received all of the information to which it was entitled.

Judge Ponsor scheduled sentencing for Dec. 9, 2004 at 2 p.m. Romeo faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.

The case is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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