Jury Convicts OH Business Owner of Work Comp Fraud


Jackson Township, OH (WorkersCompensation.com) - Craig S. Snee, a Jackson Township business operator, has been found guilty of work comp fraud by a Stark County Common Pleas Court Jury.

According to court records filed by the prosecutor’s office, laborers at Earth ‘n Wood were misclassified as clerical workers.

Michael Bickis, Stark County Assistant Prosecutor, told jurors that 64-year-old Snee knowingly broke the law from July 2015 to June 2016 when he under-reported the staff’s payroll at Earth ‘n Wood, as well as falsely classified some employees. This led to $350,000 in owed premiums meant for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

Bickis also told the jurors that Snee was dishonest about the payroll figures, and was deceptive about some of their employee groupings, such as classifying semitruck drivers as actual office employees.

The assistant prosecutor said the company’s payroll had been underreported by more than $500,000, and that on eight different occasions the defendant entered the lower numbers with the Bureau than what was actually recorded in “his own spreadsheets.” He also said, “This wasn’t a mistake. He had the numbers; all he had to do was copy them down.”

Snee’s attorney, Anthony Koukoutas, told the court that his client faced many pressures when it came to meeting payroll and keeping the company afloat.

Koukoutas said workers’ compensation premiums were increasing rapidly at Earth ‘n Wood. He also said Snee thought he could classify the drivers as clerical workers since they have to fill out logs that are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  

Koukoutas also said his client is a hardworking small businessman who faced the pressures of meeting payroll and keeping the business operating. “There’s that pressure that’s on you, the pressure to try to find a way,” he said.

Snee didn’t offer the court any explanation as to why the numbers for payroll were underreported. 

Jim Wernecke, Director of the Ohio BWC special investigation department, told WorkersCompensation.com, “We received two separate, anonymous allegations in the summer of 2016 that Mr. Snee was deliberately misclassifying his employees to lower his BWC premium. We sent an auditor to visit his business and the auditor verified the allegations.” 

Since Snee doesn’t have a criminal background, and this was not a violent offense, he will not face any jail time. The felony charges have been reduced from third-degree to fourth-degree after jurors concluded that the unpaid dollar amount was between $7,500 and $150,000 vs. more than $150,000. 

An investigation will be conducted to assist in the judge’s sentencing decision. Snee will be sentenced Oct. 17.


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