For Immediate Release - April 20, 2011

Auburn Subcontractor Sentenced in Connection with Forging Insurance Certificates

WORCESTER - The owner of an Auburn siding company pled guilty and was sentenced in connection with forging insurance certificates to falsely claim that he had valid workers' compensation insurance coverage in connection with a construction project, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today.

Joseph D. Willis, age 50, of Auburn, pled guilty in Worcester Superior Court to charges of Larceny by false Pretenses over $250, Common Law Forgery and Common Law Uttering. Willis, doing business as Worcester County Siding, entered into a subcontract with a general contractor, F.W. Madigan Company, Inc. (Madigan), during November 2006 to perform vinyl siding installation at the St. Mary's Parish Church in Uxbridge. Willis employed workers who installed the siding materials and Madigan had no knowledge that insurance certificates Willis submitted to him were fictitious.

Following a change of plea, Superior Court Judge James Lemire sentenced Willis to serve 30 days in the House of Correction, with the sentence suspended for a probationary period of two years. Judge Lemire also ordered Willis to pay $2,545 in restitution to the general contractor, representing the estimated insurance exposure for the uninsured workers.

Employers generally must provide workers' compensation insurance coverage to protect their employees who might be injured on the job. In Massachusetts, in the event that an uninsured subcontractor is engaged in a project, the general contractor becomes liable for compensable claims of those employed by the uninsured subcontractor. As a result, general contractors commonly require subcontractors to provide satisfactory proof of insurance prior to commencing work.

A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Willis on October 21, 2010. On November 23, 2010, Willis was arraigned in Worcester Superior Court where he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. On April 14, 2011, Willis pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Karla E. Zarbo and Kate Fitzpatrick, both of AG Coakley's Fair Labor Division and was investigated by the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau.

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