Newburgh electrician pleads guilty to not paying income taxes, Workers Comp fraud
GOSHEN – A Town of Newburgh electrician pleaded guilty Monday in Orange County Court to ducking income taxes and lying about employee numbers on paperwork for Workers Compensation insurance.
Scott Duffie, 62, of Walden pleaded guilty to two charges: repeated failure to file personal income tax returns, a felony under state Tax Law; and fraudulent practices, a felony under state Workers Compensation Law.
As Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl questioned him in court, Duffie admitted that he owes the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance $34,744 in unpaid tax liabilities from the period of Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 23, 2014. He failed to file personal income tax returns in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also admitted that he made false statements on paperwork to get Workers Compensation insurance between Nov. 17, 2009 and Nov. 17, 2013. He owes $59,319 to the New York State Insurance Fund.
Prosecutors say Duffie paid some workers off the books. A labor union complaint triggered an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the state Tax Department and the office of New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.
Duffie’s lawyer, Thomas Petro, told Judge Nicholas De Rosa that his client has paid $52,000 toward the total $94,063 in restitution as of Monday.
The $52,000 figure includes $12,000 in cash seized by law enforcement when they searched Duffie’s home, business and vehicles on Dec. 10, 2014.
In exchange for Duffie’s guilty plea, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will recommend a sentence of one to three years in prison on each count, to run concurrently.
De Rosa said that as long as Duffie repays a substantial amount of the money, he’ll cap the sentence at six months in jail plus five years of probation.
Duffie remains free until his sentencing on Feb. 3.
In a prepared statement, District Attorney David Hoovler noted that Duffie’s business, in operation since 1982, had worked on state and federal projects, in which contracts are generally awarded to the lowest bidder.
“The illegal activities of unscrupulous contractors give those contractors an unfair advantage over contractors who play by the rules,” Hoovler said.