A labor broker whose company pairs workers with construction gigs put endangered their employees by scamming workers compensation insurance companies in an “extensive fraud scheme,” Manhattan prosecutors said Thursday.
Labor broker Salvador Almonte, 38, and insurance broker Steven Asvazadourian, 40, denied the employees coverage partly by lying about the size of Almonte’s work force, Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.’s office said.
That drastically cut Almonte’s workers compensation insurance premiums, saving him millions of dollars.
But it also put the workers at risk of not being covered for on-the-job accidents or fatalities. More than a dozen of Almonte’s workers were injured and one died while he was playing games with their worker’s comp, Vance’s office said.
New York law requires nearly all employers to carry worker compensation insurance.
But not only did Almonte fail to buy the proper coverage — he declined to cooperate with the state board that decides workers’ claims, prosecutors say.
Almonte allegedly claimed to state officials his annual payroll for two carpenters and two cleaners was $70,000 per year. But in reality, he had dozens of employees, and his payroll for a typical two-week period was $110,000.
Almonte and Asvazadourian pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges including insurance fraud and scheme to defraud in Manhattan Supreme Court. They were released without bail.
Almonte is also under investigation by the IRS for failure to pay taxes.