February 17, 2018

Honduran Citizen Indicted for Scheme to Employ Undocumented Aliens, Evasion of Workers’ Comp Laws

Jacksonville, FL – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez recently announced the return of an indictment charging Oscar Arnelson Rodriguez-Cruz (40, Orlando) with multiple counts of wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count. Rodriguez-Cruz is a Honduran citizen who is illegally present in the United States.

The indictment also notifies Rodriguez-Cruz that the United States intends to seek forfeiture of approximately $626,817, the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offenses, and of $105,461 that was seized from him on October 11, 2017.

Pursuant to the scheme alleged in the indictment, Rodriguez-Cruz facilitated the employment in the construction industry of undocumented aliens living and working illegally in the United States. Construction contractors and subcontractors entered into an agreement with a shell company Rodriguez-Cruz established to provide workers, most of whom were undocumented aliens, for the contractors and subcontractors. By obtaining and paying the workers through the shell company, the contractors and subcontractors could disclaim responsibility for ensuring that (1) the workers were legally authorized to work in the United States, (2) required state and federal payroll taxes were paid, and (3) adequate workers’ compensation insurance was provided.

The indictment further alleges that Rodriguez-Cruz registered a corporation called Gedeon Multiservices, Inc., with the State of Florida. He then applied for a workers’ compensation insurance policy for the period from November 29, 2016, through November 29, 2017, to cover five employees and an estimated annual payroll of $121,000. The insurance company issued the policy for an annual premium of $20,473.20, based on the payroll information set forth in the application.

Rodriguez-Cruz “rented” the insurance policy to numerous construction contractors and subcontractors who employed hundreds of workers, causing the insurance company to send a certificate of insurance to the contractors and subcontractors as purported proof of sufficient workers’ compensation insurance.

The contractors and subcontractors wrote payroll checks to the shell company for work performed by the workers. Rodriguez-Cruz cashed the checks and distributed the cash to construction crew leaders, who then paid the workers in cash. No state or federal payroll taxes, such as for Medicare and Social Security, were deducted from the workers’ pay, in violation of Florida and federal law. Rodriguez-Cruz kept approximately 4% of the amount of each payroll check as a “rental” fee. Throughout the scheme, he cashed payroll checks totaling $15,670,438, with his 4% fee totaling $626,817. The annual premium for a workers’ compensation insurance policy covering a payroll of $15,670,438 would have been more than $2,500,000. Many of the workers were undocumented aliens living and working in the United States illegally.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has violated one or more federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold B. Corsmeier.

Source: US Attorney’s Office

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