South Florida Contractor Charged with Underreporting Payroll by $5.9 Million

August 24, 2023

Florida authorities this week charged a south Florida contractor with underreporting his payroll by almost $6 million, cheating his workers’ compensation insurer out of more than $350,000 in premiums.

Miguel Porras, principal at Thiago’s Enterprise Construction, of Pembroke Pines, was arrested Tuesday and charged with workers’ compensation fraud and theft, according to a bulletin from Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer.

In 2021, Porras applied for workers’ compensation coverage through Southeast Personnel Leasing Inc. and claimed an annual payroll of about $56,000. His company paid about $4,400 in premium, said Patronis, whose Department of Financial Services includes the state Division of Workers’ Compensation and investigative units.

The department did not explain how the alleged fraud came to light, but said that an investigation by the DFS Division of Investigative and Forensic Services found that Porras had actively concealed the true number of workers on the job sites. The construction firm’s comp premiums should have been closer to $357,000, DFS said.

In similar cases, it’s often the insurance company that flags suspected fraud and reports it to DFS investigators. The department did not provide the name of the comp insurer. But a 2020 contested claim in Fort Lauderdale shows that an injury claim was filed against Thiago’s, another firm and Liberty Mutual Insurance after a worker fell from a scaffold.

Porras was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail Tuesday after his fraud arrest but had apparently bonded out by Thursday morning. If convicted, he could face up to 60 years in prison, Patronis’ office said.