OSWEGO — 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, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny in Oswego County Court before Hon. Donald E. Todd on Monday. She is due back in court for sentencing on Dec. 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.”