Amesbury Business, Owner, Plead Guilty, Sentenced for Failing to Pay into the Unemployment Trust Fund
Business Failed to Pay More Than $219,000 in Tax Contributions and Interest
BOSTON – An Amesbury landscaping business and its owner have pleaded guilty in connection with failing to pay a total of more than $219,000 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), each pleaded guilty to the charge of Non-Payment of Employer Contributions (16 counts). After the plea was entered Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine Roach sentenced Bourassa and Green Company each to three years probation. As a condition of probation, the defendants were ordered to pay $219,686 in restitution to the Division of Unemployment Assistance.
“Qualifying employers are required to pay contributions to the unemployment compensation fund to ensure that benefits are available for eligible workers,” AG Coakley said. “These defendants failed to pay and uphold their obligations putting an unfair burden on those businesses that follow the law.”
“EOLWD continues to work across state agencies to identify compliance issues, like this, to restore fairness to our economy,” said Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein. “We thank the Attorney General and her office for collaborating with us to protect the integrity of the Unemployment Trust Fund and valuable resources to law-abiding employers and our workers.”
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. From October of 2006 through January of 2012, the defendants failed to pay the necessary unemployment taxes. During this time period, the company continued to operate and pay wages to its workers. As a result of the fraud Bourassa and Green Company failed to pay more than $219,000 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, 2012. Bourassa was arraigned on November 11, 2012 in Suffolk Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Bourassa and Green Company pleaded guilty on July 25 and were sentenced.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides temporary assistance to unemployed workers through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, which is funded by employer contributions. Private employers are required to pay quarterly contributions into the trust fund based on the number of workers they employ and how often their workers have accessed UI benefits, among other factors.
DUA’s Revenue Audit and Enforcement Department focuses on the prevention, detection and the investigation of those who defraud or attempt to defraud the unemployment insurance program. Once fraud is detected, the Revenue Audit and Enforcement works aggressively with the Attorney General’s office and other agencies to recover money owed to the UI Trust Fund.
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 systems. The prosecution of insurance fraud helps prevent the increase in premiums and taxes that are the result of fraudulent insurance claims. In 2012, the IUFD obtained more than $1,647,000 in restitution orders in 32 matters.
To report unemployment fraud call the EOLWD/DUA’s Fraud Hotline at (800) 354-9927 or visit: www.mass.gov/lwd/ui-fraud anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General David Andrews, Chief of AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigators Sgteven Pfisterand and Phillip Mantyla of the Attorney General’s Office, Victim Witness Advocates Megan Murphy and Ashley Cinelli of the Attorney General’s Office and Richard Carney, Director of Revenue/Tax, from EOLWD\DUA.