Manhattan District Attorney’s Office: Longtime City Entrepreneur Charged With Million Dollar Insurance Fraud

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September 28, 2021

Landscaping company misclassified workers doing sidewalk and road repairs for New York City

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York City Department of Investigations (“DOI”) Commissioner Margaret Garnett today announced the indictment of DRAGONETTI BROTHERS LANDSCAPING, NURSERY & FLORIST (“DBLNF”) and DB DEMOLITION, INC. . (“DB Demo”), as well as their respective chairmen NICHOLAS DRAGONETTI, 48, and VITO DRAGONETTI, 52, for evading more than $ 1 million in insurance premiums while working on government contracts. New York City for sidewalk and road repairs. Defendants are charged in New York State Supreme Court indictment with various counts of insurance fraud, offering a bogus instrument of first degree deposit, and penalties for fraudulent practices under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Act. The indictment follows a joint investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Construction Fraud Task Force and the DOI, with assistance from the New York City Business Integrity Commission (” BIC ”).

“When companies escape insurance premiums, they put their workers at risk of not receiving adequate insurance to cover work-related accidents,” District Attorney Vance said. “Inadequate coverage is of particular concern in the construction industry, where workers put their bodies at risk. heavy machinery demolition and operation projects. We are committed to putting an end to fraud in every corner of the construction industry, and thank DOI and BIC for their assistance in this matter, as well as for their continued partnership.

Commissioner Garnett said: “These defendant contractors believed that bypassing New York City construction workers by reducing their insurance coverage was a quick way to increase their profits, according to the charges. has helped authorities expose and end this corruption. DOI commends the DOI and thanks those who come forward and report wrongdoing. The DOI also continues to work with its law enforcement partners to expose crooked contractors who exploit their workers for personal gain. I thank the Manhattan District Attorney, the City Business Integrity Commission and the New York State Insurance Fund for their partnership in this investigation which protects construction workers and strengthens integrity on construction sites. “

BIC Commissioner Noah D. Genel said: “BIC’s main mission is to fight crime in the sectors we regulate. Working with our law enforcement partners, BIC will continue to eliminate fraud in all sectors of the commercial karting industry in New York City, including construction and demolition debris removal. . BIC thanks the Manhattan District Attorney, the City Department of Investigation and the New York State Insurance Fund for their work in this investigation.

Since 1998, DBLNF has won more than 100 contracts in New York for the development and maintenance of parks, as well as for the reconstruction of sidewalks and the construction of pedestrian ramps. Sidewalk and ramp construction workers have higher risk jobs than landscapers or florists, which include demolition and replacement of pavement and ramps, and therefore accident insurance classification higher labor.

According to court documents and statements on file in court, between 2017 and 2019, DBLNF intentionally misclassified many employees in its claims for workers’ compensation insurance with the New York State Insurance Fund (“NYSIF”) in order to to avoid paying the required fees. bonuses. DBLNF bid and won contracts for excavation, sidewalk reconstruction and pedestrian ramp replacement for residential blocks across city totaling millions of dollars, and falsely classified 217 laborers, foremen and heavy equipment operators as florists, office workers or sales representatives. As a result, DBLNF escaped over $ 1 million in insurance premiums.

During the same period, DB Demo also misclassified several workers in NYSIF documents, claiming the individuals were office workers while simultaneously listing them as commercial drivers in documents filed with BIC, the agency that oversees the private karting industry in New York City. In total, DB Demo escaped over $ 81,000 in insurance premiums.

Report advice to DA Construction Fraud Working Group

Workers are encouraged to send tips related to wage theft, insurance fraud and unsafe construction sites directly to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office via WhatsApp at (646) 712-0298. Workers can tip anonymously, in any language and regardless of their immigration status, without fear of deportation.

Assistant DA Rachana Pathak (Lawyer in Charge of Supervision of the Construction Fraud Working Group) handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant DA Michael Ohm (Deputy Head of Snowshoe Bureau), Judy Salwen (Senior Deputy Head of Snowshoe Bureau), and Jodie Kane (Head of Snowshoe Bureau) and Executive Assistant DA Christopher Conroy (Head of Investigations Division). Former DA Assistant Leah Keith was involved in the investigation, as were paralegal Stacey Kim and forensic investigator Wei Man Tang.

District Attorney Vance thanked DOI and Special Investigators Anastasia Plakas and Heather Smith; NYSIF and Principal Auditor Granville Mo; and BIC and Associate Commissioner of Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel David Mandell and investigator Dennis Yi for their assistance in the investigation.

Information about the defendant:

NICOLAS DRAGONETTI
Bellmore, New York

Charges:

  • First degree insurance fraud, class B felony, one count
  • Offering fake first degree grading instrument, class E felony, two counts
  • Penalties for fraudulent practices under the New York State Worker’s Compensation Act, one class E felony, three counts
  • First degree insurance fraud, class B felony, one count
  • Offering fake first degree grading instrument, class E felony, two counts
  • Penalties for fraudulent practices under the New York State Worker’s Compensation Act, one class E felony, three counts
  • Second Degree Insurance Fraud, Class C Crime, One Count
  • Offering fake first degree grading instrument, class E felony, two counts
  • Penalties for fraudulent practices under the New York State Worker’s Compensation Act, one class E felony, two counts
  • Second Degree Insurance Fraud, Class C Crime, One Count
  • Offering fake first degree grading instrument, class E felony, two counts
  • Penalties for fraudulent practices under the New York State Worker’s Compensation Act, one class E felony, two counts

This press release was produced by Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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