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Fraud Conviction For Former South Florida PEO Chief

In a somewhat shocking turn of events for the PEO industry, a federal grand jury in South Florida has indicted-and now convicted--the former CEO and president of failed professional employer organization Certified Services on charges alleging he collected an estimated $10 million in premiums to secure bogus workers' compensation coverage from unlicensed companies.

Danny L. Pixler and two other former principals of the Fort Lauderdale-based company in May 2008 settled civil claims with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the group used phony letters of credit to create $47 million in fake assets and concealed $65 million in claims liabilities before Certified Services filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2006.

The other principals, former chief risk officer Otha Ray McCartha and former company consultant Charles J. Spinelli, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the federal investigation last year and received 24 and 21 months in prison, respectively.

In a case related to the SEC complaint, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has filed suit against Pixler and other principals of Certified Services alleging that Certified's misreporting of assets and liabilities played a key role in the collapse of Cascade National Insurance Co.

Pixler was never indicted in connection with the SEC complaint. But he was charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in an indictment handed down in Fort Lauderdale on June 26, according to federal court records.

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