New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro announced the guilty plea of an Oswego County-based court stenographer who routinely inflated billing invoices to insurance carrier clients over the course of several years, resulting in her alleged theft of more than $187,000.
Laura Hayes, 47, of Phoenix in Oswego County, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (C Felony) in Oswego County Court before Hon. Donald E. Todd on October 5. She is due back in court for sentencing on December 10.
Hayes is the owner and operator of Quality Court Reporting, a stenographic service in Central New York. Court reporting fees are paid by the carrier in workers’ compensation proceedings. The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General received multiple complaints from insurance carriers alleging that she was overbilling for services provided.
The Inspector General’s investigation found that Hayes regularly submitted bills to the carriers for services for approximately 10-times the appropriate value by simply adding a zero at the end of her invoices (e.g. $150 would become $1,500). The inflated costs were passed on to workers’ compensation insurance carriers, which in turn may have negatively impacted premiums.
In all, the Inspector General’s Office found that Hayes overbilled four insurance carriers for $187,700.
“This stenographer engaged in a brazen and illegal scheme to steal from the workers’ compensation system,” said Inspector General Tagliafierro. “She was paid money she didn’t earn by grossly inflating charges for her services, and she is now being held accountable for her actions.”
Inspector General Tagliafierro thanked the New York State Police for assisting in the arrest and the office of Oswego County District Attorney Gregory S. Oakes for handling the prosecution.