Three contractors and city employee arrested for fraud

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - Updated: 4:08 AM

Three Amsterdam contractors and a city employee were arrested as part of a Montgomery County worker's compensation fraud sweep, state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announced Thursday.

Joseph Kellogg Sr., 51, of Storrie St., Thomas J. Kelly, 46, of Minaville St., Kurt B. LaFata, 50, of Locust Ave., were charged with first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, and the workers' compensation crimes of fraudulent practices and failure to secure compensation. Kellogg is accused of being a repeat offender.

William Forte, 51, of Coolidge Road, was charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree insurance fraud and the workers' compensation crime of fraudulent practices.

Kellogg, a residential roofing contractor in Amsterdam, filed four separate building permit applications with the city of Amsterdam in 2015, including allegedly fraudulent certifications that he had no employees and was therefore exempt from obtaining workers' compensation insurance.

According to the Inspector General's office, Kellogg pleaded guilty in 2013 to a misdemeanor offering a false instrument for filing after a similar fraudulent certification.

Scott's investigation found Kellogg used several employees, as much as 11 for two projects, on his roofing job contracts, according to a news release.

Scott found Kelly and LaFata working as residential contractors with roofing projects this year, also allegedly fraudulently certified in building permit application they filed with the city stating they had no employees and were exempt from obtaining workers' compensation insurance. Investigators reportedly observed three workers at LaFata's job site in July, who said LaFata had workers' compensation coverage for them. Officials similarly found four workers on Kelly's site.

According to the Inspector General, Forte "purportedly" injured his left and both hands while employed as a truck driver in 2012. He began receiving workers' compensation coverage, and has been receiving weekly payments since summer 2014. He allegedly told his doctors and the insurance company he was not able to work.

Investigation, however, allegedly found Forte was working for the city of Amsterdam and had been seen using his reportedly injured arm lifting tools and climbing ladders.

He is accused of stealing more than $16,000 in workers' compensation benefits he was not entitled to.

"All of these defendants chose to defraud the workers' compensation system to either gain an unfair advantage over honest construction emptiness or to steal benefits mean only for those who are truly in need," Scott said in a statement.

The four men were arraigned in the city of Amsterdam. Bail was set for Kellogg at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond; $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond for Forte; and $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond for Kelly. LaFata was released without bail. They are each scheduled to appear in court later this month and in January.

The city of Amsterdam assisted in the investigation, the Amsterdam Police Department assisted in the arrested, and Montgomery County District Attorney James "Jed" Conboy, prosecuted.

-- Staff Report