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Orlando Business Owner Arrested for $300K Workers’ Compensation Scheme

4/29/2016

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413-2842

Orlando, Fla. – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Oscar Matute, owner of Orlando construction company Matute Express General Construction Inc. Matute is alleged to have misrepresented information regarding Matute Construction’s employees and payroll when applying for a workers’ compensation policy. By doing so, Matute avoided at least $300,000 in workers’ compensation premium payments. Workers’ compensation policies protect employees in the event of an on-the-job injury and if proper policies are not in place, injured employees could face lost wages and costly medical expenses to cover.
 
After discovering significant discrepancies between the amount in payroll checks that were being cashed and the amount of payroll that had been reported on the business’ workers compensation policy, workers’ compensation compliance officers working for the Department of Financial Services began questioning the company’s number of employees and total payroll figures. After failing to comply with multiple requests for financial documents, compliance officers visited two different Matute Construction work sites and workers on both sites confirmed that they were paid by Oscar Matute.
 
By utilizing multiple money service businesses in Orlando and Jacksonville to cash his company’s payroll checks, Matute was able to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported payroll; a common method used to bypass workers’ compensation statutes. By misrepresenting the amount of Matute Construction’s payroll, employees and the businesses operations Matute was able to avoid more than $300,000 in workers’ compensation premium dues.
 
Workers’ compensation policies are calculated by factoring in a company’s total payroll and number of employees along with the risks associated with the company’s field of work, among other factors. Investigators discovered that Matute lied when obtaining a workers’ compensation insurance policy from Commerce & Industry Insurance Company to cover Matute Express General Construction Inc. He did so by grossly underreporting the company’s payroll. During the dates represented on the policy paperwork, more than $2.7 million in payroll checkers were cashed, far more than the $148,000 that was reported.
 
Matute was arrested and charged with workers’ compensation premium fraud and engaging in an organized scheme to defraud, both of which are first degree felonies.  This case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney Angela Corey of the Fourth Judicial Circuit and if convicted, Matute faces up to 20 years in prison.
 
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).