Amesbury Business, Owner, Arraigned for Failing to Pay into the Unemployment Trust Fund
AG’s Office Alleges Amesbury Businesses Failed to Pay More Than $445,000 in Tax Contributions and Interest
BOSTON – An Amesbury landscaping business has been arraigned in in connection with failing to pay a total of more than $445,000 into the Commonwealth’s unemployment trust fund, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Bruce Bourassa, 43, of Amesbury, and his company Green Company Landscape & Irrigation, Inc. (Green Company), were each arraigned on the charge of Non-Payment of Employer Contributions (22 counts).
The case is the result of an investigation referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Department of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA) in a collaborative effort to target employers that fail to pay their quarterly unemployment contributions.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) administers the Unemployment Insurance program, providing temporary assistance to unemployed workers. Funding for these benefits comes from Massachusetts employers. Employers either pay quarterly contributions into the trust fund or non-profit or governmental employers have the option to self-insure, reimbursing the state dollar-for-dollar for benefits paid.
According to authorities, Bourassa has been the president and treasurer of Green Company, an Amesbury landscaping company incorporated in 1991, since 1997. Authorities allege that although the company had previously complied with its employer tax contributions, it stopped paying the necessary taxes beginning in October 2006 through January 2012. During this time period, the company continued to operate and pay wages to its workers. As a result of the alleged fraud, Bourassa and Green Company failed to pay more than $445,000 in employer contributions including interest.
Despite their lack of contribution to the unemployment fund, workers formerly employed by Green Company were able to collect more than $595,000 in benefits after their separation.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Bourassa and Green Company on September 27. Bourassa was arraigned Monday in Suffolk Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Bourassa is due back in court on December 13, for a pre-trial conference. Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson presided over the arraignment.
AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers, including the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation system. The prosecution of insurance fraud helps prevent the increase in premiums and taxes that are the result of fraudulent insurance claims. In 2011, the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division obtained $5,578,934 in restitution orders in 33 matters.
To report unemployment fraud to the EOLWD\DUA, call the agency’s toll free fraud hotline at 1-800-354-9927 anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General David Andrews, Chief of AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigators Tracey Wetterlow and Rose Bagalawis the Attorney General’s Office and Richard Carney, Director of Revenue Enforcement and Audit, from EOLWD\DUA.