Everett, WA – The owners of a Mill Creek house-cleaning business face felony charges alleging they refused to pay workers’ compensation insurance premiums and shorted an employee out of wages.
Blake Joseph Standley, 38, of Bothell, and Monica Ann Covey-Standley, 38, of Mill Creek, have each been charged with four felony counts of filing false reports to evade workers’ compensation premiums. In addition, they each face a felony count of second-degree theft for allegedly failing to pay one of their workers.
The charges stem from the Standleys’ operation of their business, Kogaty Interiors. The pair, who were married when they operated the company, are slated to be arraigned in Snohomish County Superior Court on Monday, Nov. 7.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on an investigation by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). L&I administers the state workers’ comp system that provides medical and other services to help injured workers heal and return to work.
Records show workers, but no workers’ comp payments
L&I began its investigation after the department audited another business that Blake Standley managed; that audit led to questions about Kogaty Interiors.
Standley filed reports to L&I in 2013 and 2014 stating that no employees had worked for Kogaty Interiors. Yet bank records showed they were paying employees to clean houses from April 2013 through early July 2014, while the couple also was depositing income for house cleaning services, charging papers said.
In addition, an L&I investigator spoke to employees who had wage and tax statements and time sheets showing the Standleys paid them for stints in 2013 and 2014. Charging papers said the couple should have paid nearly $12,000 in workers’ comp premiums, based on the employee payroll records.
L&I records show the couple now owes more than $77,000 when penalties and interest are included.
Shorted worker out of pay
One employee also told L&I that the Standleys failed to pay her for about two weeks’ worth of work in late 2014. Though she repeatedly asked to be paid, the woman said the couple ignored her emails and messages, and hung up whenever she called, charging papers said.
She filed a wage complaint to L&I, which determined the Standleys owed her about $1,000. The Standleys haven’t paid the late wages or a $1,000 penalty plus interest.
“There’s simply no excuse for failing to pay workers who did their job and depend on their paychecks,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. “We aggressively pursue employers who use deception to get out of their responsibility to pay workers and workers’ comp premiums.
“Refusing to pay premiums raises costs for everyone who contributes to the workers’ comp system.”
Employer false reporting and second-degree theft carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, plus restitution and court costs.
Source: WA L&I