Keys Staffing Firm Owner Gets 32 Months for Illegal Worker Tax Violations

The owner of several Key West staffing companies is on his way to prison after a federal judge sentenced him to more than two years for hiring unauthorized alien workers and failing to pay taxes on their wages.

Batyr Myatiev, who for 10 years supplied labor to hotels, bars and restaurants in the Keys, must also pay more than $6.8 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Attorney for south Florida said in a bulletin last week.

The felony information filed in federal court said that Myatiev’s staffing companies signed contracts with the hospitality firms to provide more than 100 alien workers.

“These agreements helped the defendant’s customers attempt to disclaim responsibility for ensuring that workers were legally authorized to work in the United States and that federal employment taxes were paid,” the court document reads.

In fact, many of the establishments’ managers knew that the workers were not authorized and taxes weren’t withheld, prosecutors said in the information.

Myatiev’s sentencing came four months after another south Florida staffing firm owner was sentenced to 96 months in prison for similar crimes. Oleksandr Morgunov, who ran several cleaning-service staffing companies, also must pay almost $8 million in back taxes to the U.S. government.

The court records did not indicate if the staffing companies had maintained workers’ compensation insurance for the illegal workers, but experts have said that in similar cases, comp insurance has often been shirked or payrolls have been underreported.

Prosecutors did not say how the fraud came to light but the felony information court document shows that investigators had obtained at least one payroll check to a worker, for $988.70, for which federal taxes had not been withheld.

A much-criticized Florida law, signed last week, will soon require employers of 25 or more people to verify the immigration status of workers, by using the federal verification system. It also enhances penalties for employers and workers who knowingly violate the law.

Photo: (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Topics Florida

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