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Broad Prevailing Wage Fraud Case Results In Less-Than-Federally Recommended Sentence in WI

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A Wisconsin construction owner has been sentenced to two years probation and six months house arrest for his role in a scheme to not pay the prevailing wage. Scott Watry will also pay more than $659,000 in restitution. 

Watry had previously paid $1 million in a whistleblower case that led to the conviction. He was convicted of fraud for having ghost employees and submitting false records on a $4.7 million roofing project at the Westlawn housing project.  

The sentence is actually below what was asked for by federal prosecutors, who had recommended one year and one day in prison.  Federal guidelines called for a five-year prison sentence but Watry’s attorney landed the favorable result, arguing that his client cooperated with an FBI investigation. This, despite the fact that he originally lied to investigators and asked others to do the same. In a court memorandum, Wilmouth wrote:

“Along with personal humiliation and negative communications directed at his family, including his oldest son, Watry is now labeled a felon.  Probation is a sufficiently serious sentence.”

In June, Watry entered a plea agreement for his part of the fraud.  At the time, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the whistleblower act had revolved around an employee of Waltry’s who came forward claiming fraud based around the stimulus act:

The investigation, which the whistleblower suit says involves contracts issued through the stimulus act created by the Obama administration in 2009, was first reported by the Journal Sentinel in 2013 after the FBI and other investigators raided Watry’s offices.

The whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Watry “after bragging they were going to get ‘Obama money’ submitted knowingly false claims through a scheme to defraud the government, by violating prevailing wage requirements, utilizing undocumented workers and falsifying documents related to construction work … through contracts awarded to the American Recovery and Reinvestment” Act.

The lawyer for the whistleblower, Heather Ramos, was displeased with the sentence: “Watry should serve prison time to send a message and to make sure that this does not happen in Wisconsin again.”


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