Albany, NY (December 01, 2010) -State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner and Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III announced today that Trac Construction, Inc., dba Municipal Milling & Mix-In-Place, pleaded guilty in Erie County Supreme Court to a felony charge for its violation of New York State's prevailing wage laws. As part of a plea agreement announced today in Court, the company and its owners have agreed to pay 12 workers $312,280 in unpaid wages. They will also pay $131,890 in interest and penalties.
Trac Construction pleaded guilty to PL §175.35, False Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, before Hon. Russell P. Buscaglia, for filing documents containing false wage information with the government.
In July 2009, the Department was alerted of Trac Construction's alleged failure to pay employees the prevailing wage at regional public work projects. Union members contacted the Department after attending a labor law enforcement group presentation, sponsored by the agency's Office of Special Investigations, where regional labor-related issues were discussed. The Department's Bureau of Public Work commenced an investigation, which uncovered evidence that the Angola NY-based company performed road milling work from 2007-2009 for a number of municipalities and agencies without paying workers appropriate wages. On average, Trac's workers earned $8-$13 per hour when they should have earned approximately $40 per hour. The company filed false documents stating workers were paid prevailing wages, when in fact they were not.
"This employer showed a blatant disregard for his workers by willingly cheating them out of their hard-earned money," said Commissioner Gardner. "Imagine going to work at a set wage and being paid less than half the money you're owed. That's what 12 Western New York workers had to deal with for three years. With this guilty plea, the days are over for Trac Construction's fleecing of worker wages and the public trust."
Commissioner Gardner continued, "Prevailing wage laws are in place to level the playing field and protect workers and the integrity of public work projects. I thank District Attorney Sedita, Assistant District Attorney Gary Ertel and their staff for their cooperation in prosecuting this case. This plea sends a clear message: if you violate state labor law we will find you and you will suffer the same fate as Trac Construction."
As part of agreements between Trac Construction, its owners, and the Department of Labor announced today in Court, the company and its owner Christ Pappas (who signed payroll records submitted to the government) will be debarred from performing public work in New York State for five years. In addition, two other owners - C. Richard Pappas and Timothy J. Pappas - will each have willful violations imposed upon them. If they have another willful violation within the next six years, they will be automatically debarred from performing public work in New York State. The company and its owners have also agreed to execute documents within the next two weeks that will result in payment in full of more than $444,000 in back wages, interest and penalties, which were identified in the Bureau of Public Work's investigations/audits.
Under New York State's prevailing wage laws, wage schedules for workers on all public work projects are set by the Department of Labor. Contractors must file certified payrolls with the contracting agency on each project. These documents must include accurate information about who performed the work, and how much each employee was paid in wages and benefits.
The wages to be paid to the 12 workers result from work performed for the following municipalities and agencies:
The New York State Labor Department's Bureau of Public Work Senior Investigator Edward C. Scheuer handled the investigation.
The State Labor Department encourages employers and workers to contact the department about wage and hour issues. More information about prevailing wage laws and public work projects, including a list of debarred contractors, is on the department's web site. Information is also available by contacting the NYSDOL Bureau of Public Work District Office in your area.