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Apr
2015
9

NY AG Unearths $1,000,000 in Stolen Construction Wages; Jail Time Pursued for Contractors

Schneiderman (via AP)

Schneiderman (via AP)


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Five construction contractors who performed work on public works projects in New York City have been arrested for wage theft after an investigation by the Attorney General’s office found stolen wages totaling more than $1 million.  The arrests come as part of a long-running investigation into wage theft on public works projects.  

Three other contractors were arrested as part of the investigation in December.  AG Schneiderman’s office and New York City School Construction Authority Inspector General’s office are now seeking to recover the wages on behalf of the workers.  

From Schneiderman’s statement:

“Employers who cheat workers out of the wages and benefits they deserve are breaking the law and will face the consequences, including criminal charges.  Like all workers across America, New York City’s construction workers do not deserve to be cheated out the wages they earned from building schools for our children and affordable housing for our families. My office will continue to take aggressive action with our law enforcement partners against employers who ignore their legal obligation to pay workers proper prevailing wages on taxpayer-funded projects.”

The latest arrests will result in five contractors facing charges in three cases, all revolving around wage theft and illegal kickbacks.  The largest of the cases was filed in Manhattan Criminal Court and revolves around subcontractor Sergio Raymundo, who allegedly underpaid eight carpenters by $800,000 for work done on the Sugar Hill Houses in Harlem between 2012 and 2014.  Raymundo is also being charged with counts of falsifying business records in the first degree for his role in a scheme to hide the underpayments by signing false checks drawn from his company account.  Court papers show that those checks were never issued to workers.  If found guilty, Raymundo could face up to 4 years in jail.

Another case filed in Bronx Supreme Court charges three business owners—Shamas Mian, 51 years old; Tarig Mahmood, 56, and Baldev Singh, 39 of underpaying masonry workers for a project at PS 7X in the bronx in 2012.  Mian has been charged with underpaying workers by more than $25,000 and covering up the underpayments by submitting falsified payroll records to New York City’s School Construction Authority. The other two contractors, Mahmood and Singh, are charged with failure to pay prevailing wages and benefits in excess of $100,000.  They could face up to 7 years in prison if convicted.

The third case was filed in Queens Criminal Court and surrounds subcontractor Jagidsh Singh who allegedly demanded thousands of dollars in kickbacks from workers he was underpaying on a project at the Pomonok Houses in Queens.  According to court documents, Singh demanded kickbacks from workers while threatening to fire them:

Singh is accused of demanding $6,000 in kickbacks from two workers. The alleged kickbacks were required by Singh in exchange for the workers keeping their jobs. One employee returned $5,785 of his wages, another $1,006. A third worker was allegedly underpaid by $2,520. Singh is charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, Kick-Back of Wages Prohibited, and Failure to Pay Wages. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

NYC Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in a statement:

“Prevailing wage theft steals paychecks from honest workers’ pockets and compromises the integrity of construction sites on City-funded projects. I look forward to continuing to work together with the Attorney General and our partner agencies to expose and prosecute this pernicious crime.”

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