Painter tries to get around NYS insurance policy

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A 37-year-old painter from Flanders recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for presenting a contractor with false insurance papers.

Patricio Samaniego, the owner of P&S Painting in Flanders, was initially charged in June 2007 with violating Section 114 of the Workers’ Compensation Law, a felony, according to state officials. His current misdemeanor charge for attempted fraudulent practices is the result of a plea bargain reached in April.

Mr. Samaniego was sentenced to a conditional discharge, meaning the charge will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble, according to Bob Lawson, a spokesman for the New York State Insurance Fund, a state agency that manages the workers’ compensation fund.

“Conditional discharge means ‘no jail time,’” Mr. Lawson said.

The charge stems from a September 2006 incident in which Mr. Samaniego, who was seeking work as a subcontractor, gave a general contractor who works in the Southampton area an invalid certificate of insurance. The document shows that an employer has a policy for workers compensation insurance. Mr. Samaniego also gave the contractor an invalid proof of insurance coverage.

Mr. Samaniego did not have workers’ compensation or liability insurance ?coverage, and was not hired for the subcontracting job, according to authorities.

Mr. Lawson said the contractor Mr. Samaniego was seeking work with was a policy holder with NYSIF, and because he checked Mr. Samaniego’s certificate to verify it, he saw that it was fraudulent.

Mr. Lawson would not provide the name of the contractor who realized Mr. Samaniego was in possession of forged insurance papers. Mr. Samaniego could not be reached for comment.

“At this time of year there’s a lot of construction going on and it’s important to make sure people have workers’ compensation on employees for the sake of the property owner and the general contractor,” Mr. Lawson said.

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