Failing to have a workers’ compensation account and pay premiums has landed an Oak Harbor, Wash., employer in jail.
Mark Dahl, sole owner of Catalina Marine Services Inc., pleaded guilty to a Class C Felony in January. On Feb. 3, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan R. Hancock sentenced Dahl to two days in jail and 28 days of home monitoring, and ordered him to pay $76,885 in premiums and penalties.
Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) began investigating after receiving a workers’ compensation claim from an employee of Catalina Marine Services. L&I had no open account for a company with that name and opened an audit.
L&I determined that Dahl had 14 employees and failed to pay workers’ compensation premiums from October 2003 through June 2005. L&I also established that Dahl presented false records during the audit. Judge Hancock ordered Dahl to turn over his financial records to L&I to ensure accurate future reporting.
“This is not a victimless crime,” said Carl Hammersburg, manager of L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Compliance Program. “Failing to open an L&I account and pay premiums is illegal, and honest employers suffer for it. They face unfair competition and higher rates when their competitors don’t pay into the workers’ compensation system.”
The Island County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office agreed to pursue the case after reviewing the evidence L&I gathered.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005, L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Compliance Program referred 23 criminal cases to county prosecutors and recovered more than $105 million in delinquent insurance premiums from employers and overpayments to providers and claimants.
The workers’ compensation system operated by L&I provides coverage to about 161,000 employers and 2.3 million workers.
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