December 15, 2017

NY Restaurateur Charged with Insurance & Workers’ Comp Fraud

Mineral, NY – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Far Rockaway restaurant owner was recently arrested for allegedly lying about her injuries and employment status in order to wrongfully receive more than $69,000 in disability and workers’ compensation insurance payments.

Michelle Buggs, 45, of Inwood, was recently arraigned before District Court Judge Joseph Girardi and charged with Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), Insurance Fraud in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree (a D felony) Insurance Fraud in the 3rd Degree (a D felony), Perjury in the 1st Degree (a D felony), Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (an E felony), and Workers’ Compensation Fraud Fraudulent Practices (an E felony). The defendant was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court on August 26. Buggs faces up to five to 15 years in prison if convicted on the top charge.

“Workers’ Compensation Insurance was designed to protect those vulnerable employees injured on the job,” DA Singas said. “However, when individuals decide to scam the system by filing fraudulent disability insurance claims, they are undermining that very system designed to help those in need. Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime that ultimately cheats honest taxpayers who are then forced to shoulder the burden of increased premiums. My office is committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting individuals who engage in this type of fraud for their own personal benefit.”

DA Singas said that on October 18, 2006, Buggs was employed as a baker/cake decorator for Waldbaum’s supermarket in Glen Head and sustained an injury to her wrist and fourth finger while helping a customer up from the floor and onto her walker. The Workers’ Compensation Board granted her disability payments.

Buggs filed incorporation papers on August 29, 2012, with New York State for a restaurant “It’z All 4U.” The restaurant was also featured in the local Rockaway newspaper, The Wave, on January 31, 2014.

On December 16, 2014, Buggs attended an independent medical examination and signed paperwork that stated that she had not worked since the date of the accident and that she was unable to work. On February 26, 2015, Buggs testified under oath at a Workers’ Compensation hearing that she did not start a company and did not own a business.

Surveillance conducted in February of 2015 allegedly showed Buggs cooking, working the cash register and serving customers. She was also allegedly observed carrying items with her right hand and making deliveries to customer locations.

Buggs allegedly wrongfully received more than $69,000.00 in disability payments since August 29, 2012.

Assistant District Attorney Vickie Curran of District Attorney Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau, is prosecuting the case. Buggs is represented by Scott Gross, Esq.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty

Source: Nassau County DA

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