AUBURN — A former logging company owner in Auburn was sentenced to prison Tuesday for stealing thousands of dollars in workers' compensation benefits and failing to provide his employees with the proper insurance coverage.
Last year, 56-year-old David Sigl was arrested following an investigation by state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott and Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann.
According to the IG's office, Sigl collected more than $83,000 in benefits after sustaining an injury at a Syracuse construction firm in 2013. However, it turned out Sigl was not entitled to those benefits, as he had been working as a logger for his own company, Lake Country Logging, and earned over $150,000 while receiving workers' comp.
In addition, the inspector general said Sigl did not provide workers' comp insurance for two individuals he employed at Lake Country Logging. In doing so, he violated state law.
Sigl, of 129 Wall St., was eventually indicted and charged with three felonies: second-degree grand larceny, second-degree insurance fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. He was also charged with the workers' compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, a misdemeanor.
In August, Sigl pleaded guilty to the charges, admitting to stealing over $83,000 in benefits, and on Tuesday, he appeared in Cayuga County Court for sentencing.
During sentencing, Budelmann cited Sigl's criminal history, a long list of drunk driving and theft-related convictions dating back to 1980. He also said Sigl had committed several crimes out of state and violated his probation in the past. Both Budelmann and the Cayuga County Probation Office asked the court to sentence Sigl to prison.
Meanwhile, Sigl's defense attorney, Jonis Strods, requested probation. While he acknowledged Sigl's "extensive criminal history," Strods said his client has been in treatment for cancer since 2015 and claimed Sigl ultimately pleaded guilty because he "didn't have the strength" to go to trial.
"It's basically a death sentence," Sigl said of his illness Tuesday. "If you throw me in jail, I don't know what will happen to me."
But the district attorney said he had his doubts.
"This whole case is based on the defendant lying about his medical condition," Budelmann said.
Judge Mark Fandrich said he had reviewed Sigl's medical records, which confirmed that Sigl was a "very sick man." However, Fandrich said there was also the matter of Sigl's criminal record, which led him to sentence Sigl to one to three years in prison.
"With callous calculation, this defendant stole benefits meant for honest, hard-working New Yorkers while simultaneously failing to protect his own employees with the critical workers' compensation coverage he brazenly abused," Inspector General Leahy Scott said Tuesday in a press release.
"This defendant lied to his doctors, and the Workers' Compensation Board, claiming he was totally disabled," Budelmann added in the release. "Ultimately Sigl was caught, admitted, and plead guilty to climbing up and down trees, and wielding professional chainsaws, and climbing in and out of a large log-skidder tractor."
Sigl was remanded to Cayuga County Jail Tuesday to be processed for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. He was also ordered to pay roughly $83,500 in restitution.