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Gallagher Announces Arrest of Jacksonville Business Owner Charged with Fraud


FLDFS Press Office
(850) 413-2842
JACKSONVILLE—Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, announced today the arrest of a tree service business owner following the death of one his employees from electrocution. Capannelli failed to provide workers' compensation insurance, which means that the family of the deceased worker may not receive death benefits.
Aaron M. Capannelli, 26, owner of LumberJax Tree Service, has been charged with workers' compensation fraud, first degree, for failure to provide workers' compensation insurance coverage for his employees.  Capannelli surrendered to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office earlier this month and could face up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  The surrender occurred following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud. 
"This is an especially sad case where a family has to deal with financial burden in addition to their grief," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "Workers' compensation coverage ensures workers, especially those in high-risk jobs, have a safety net in the event of an accident. Employers who break the law and do not provide this coverage put their employees and their families at great risk and unfairly compete with law-abiding businesses."
The department's Division of Workers' Compensation, Bureau of Compliance, conducted the investigation after the June 14 death of Capannelli's employee, Carl T. Jernigan, after his tree trimming equipment came in contact with a power line. At the time of his death, Jernigan was two days shy of celebrating his 22nd birthday.  The investigation confirmed that Capannelli and four employees were working at a private residence without workers' compensation coverage, a violation of Florida law.  Capannelli was issued a Stop Work Order (SWO) and a Request for Business Records.  As a result of the SWO, Capannelli was assessed a fine of $1,000 and was arrested by insurance fraud detectives on the felony charge.
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates fraud in all types of insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation.  To report information about this case or any other possible insurance fraud case, call the department's Fraud Fighters hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.