Ring of Union Members Charged with Conspiring to Steal from Health Fund
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York
ROCHESTER, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. today that eight present and former members of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 267 have been charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to steal funds belonging to their union-sponsored health care plan. The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, Paul Harnas, Jr., Brandon Wilson, Cory Bennett, Eric Field, Jamie Davenport, Jared Stevens, Chris Beach and Gregory Haller, all of the Southern Tier area of NY, schemed to defraud their union health care plan by submitting fraudulent claims for reimbursement of purported dental work. The fraudulent claims were supported by fictitious receipts that Paul Harnas, Jr. prepared and sold to the other defendants for approximately $100 per receipt. From June 2011 to April 2013, the defendants submitted at least 28 fraudulent claims to obtain more than $65,000 from the health care plan.
The criminal complaint is the culmination of an investigation by Special Agents the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the Direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York Regional Office, and the New York State Department of Financial Services, Frauds Bureau, under the direction of Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky.
Paul Harnas, Jr. made an initial appearance on October 28, 2014 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Payson and was released. Harnas and the remaining defendants will be in court on November 4, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Payson.The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Updated November 19, 2014