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Auto Shop Owners Charged with Insurance Fraud

1/25/2005

CONTACT: 
Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
MARGATE—The owners of an auto repair shop were arrested today on insurance fraud charges stemming from an investigation that showed they underreported payroll to avoid paying thousands of dollars in workers' compensation premiums.
 
 Edward and Mary Thibeault, owners of Ed's Auto Repair, located at 2936 North SR 7, were booked this morning into the Broward County Jail with bond set at $1,500 each.   If convicted, each faces up to five years in prison on the third-degree felony charge.  The arrests were made by insurance fraud investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.
 
"Employers who don't fully cover their workers not only break the law but also break an obligation they have to their employees to make sure they are taken care of if they are injured on the job," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  "Workers' compensation fraud hurts workers and employers who play by the rules and will not be tolerated in Florida."
 
The investigation began after former employees complained that the business owners had been paying them in cash to deliberately understate the company's payroll to Bridgefield Employers Insurance.  The complainants told investigators they believed the Thibeaults, both 50, had been doing this for more than 20 years.
 
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.  Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Busters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.