Another employee leasing company executive is on his way to jail. Unfortunately, the person who gained the most from the “ill-gotten” gains is still on the loose. Recent articles from my SanAntonio.com report that Patrick G. Mire 49, pled guilty to keeping more than $70 million that small businesses had paid for payroll taxes or insurance. Also said to be under investigation is Charles Edward Pircher, 59, who served five years in federal prison for a $1.2 million savings and loan bank fraud in Austin, TX in the 1990s.
Mire states he operated PEOs from 1995 to 2007 under different names to commit the fraud. The names of the Professional Employer Organiztions included United Capital Investment Group Inc.; Service Professionals Inc.; SSI Management Group Inc.; Service Professionals AK of Nevada Inc.; Employer Liability Services Inc.; Safe Staff Inc.; Service Professionals of Texas Inc.; Service Professionals of Texas; ServPro of Texas LLC; United Focus Inc.; Centerpoint Outsourcing LLC; Synergy Personnel Inc.; and Comal Payroll Plus Inc.
The Internal Revenue Service and FBI claim that Mire and Pircher had management roles in professional employer organizations (PEOs) that collected payroll taxes from clients — usually small businesses like roofing companies and metal fabricators — that were never paid to the government, along with fees for workers compensation insurance that was never provided.
The scheme involved using a phony letterhead and setting up a phone line that gave clients the illusion they were calling an agent for Hartford Underwriters Insurance Co. In reality, callers were talking to a machine at the PEOs’ offices in San Antonio and the PEOs gave clients fake Hartford certificates of liability insurance, the plea agreement states. Hartford had no knowledge of it.
Pircher who has not been charged bought a 551-acre horse-training ranch called Paradise Farms in Medina County with money from United Capital Investment Group, one of the professional employer organization companies named in the current fraud case. He also used money from other PEOs he managed to help pay the $1.2 million restitution of his 1990s criminal case, according to court records.
Prosecutors have said the clients of the PEOs would not be on the hook for the tax losses.
NAPEO, the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations, should be making greater efforts to protect business owners and their employees from unscrupulous operators who treat clients’ payroll tax payments and insurance premiums as their own. Unfortunately, over 95% of employee leasing companies and professional employer organizations are private companies who disclose little or no information about their operations. Rating agencies such as A.M. Best and S & P do not follow or report on the soundness of individual companies or the industry as a whole. Let the buyer beware, do your due diligence or work with professionals who know the industry.