A health club owner from Massachusetts is scheduled to be arraigned June 2 after she and her three companies were indicted in connection with failing to pay more than $242,000 to the state's unemployment trust fund.
Barbara Niggel owns Willy's World Wellness and Conference Center in Eastham, MA; Willy's Gym and Fitness Center in Orleans, MA; and Willy's LLC in Hyannis, MA. The indictment was announced May 1 by the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The case is the result of an investigation referred to the attorney general’s office by the state's executive office of labor and workforce development's department of unemployment assistance.
In the indictment returned by a Suffolk County grand jury, Niggel was charged with 31 counts of non-payment of employer contributions. Willy's LLC was charged with four counts, R&J Productions Inc. had 13 counts and Willy's World Wellness and Conference Center received 14 counts.
Authorities allege that between 2008 and 2012, Niggel continued to pay her employees but at times failed to file the company's tax reports and ultimately failed to pay the required unemployment tax to the department of unemployment assistance, resulting in delinquent payments of more than $242,000.
"Qualifying employers are required to pay contributions to the unemployment compensation fund to ensure that benefits are available for eligible workers," Coakley said in a statement. "Through enforcement, we aim to level the playing field for those businesses that already follow the law and to ensure future compliance."
The arraignment for Niggel and her three companies will be in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.
Niggel enjoyed a world championship martial arts career before she opened the original Willy's Gym in Orleans in 1985. She named the club after her martial arts teacher and mentor, Willy Wetzel. In 2002, Niggel bought the former Norseman Athletic Club and turned it into Willy's World Wellness and Conference Center, a 120,000-square-foot multipurpose club in Eastham.
Niggel declined to comment about the indictment to the Cape Cod Times, which reported that Willy's World Wellness and Conference Center and Willy's LLC lost their corporation status in April 2011. A spokesman for the secretary of state's office told the newspaper that both companies lost their status for failing to file annual reports.