Albany, NY (September 07, 2010) -
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe and State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner today announced that Earl Galbreath Jr. of 640 Ashford Avenue, Ardsley, New York has been arrested and arraigned for defrauding employees out of $298,000 in unpaid wages and benefits.
Galbreath is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class "C" Felony.
Galbreath, who conducted his business under the company name of Abelcraft of New York Inc., is alleged to have failed to pay the legally required prevailing wages for 66 workers who were working on a construction project at The Rockland Children's Psychiatric Center in Orangetown.
The Rockland County Special Investigations Unit and the State Labor Department's Bureau of Public Work/Newburgh office pursued Galbreath after receiving a number of complaints that the firm was not paying the employees the required prevailing wage.
"New York's prevailing wage laws are designed to protect both the workers and the integrity of public works projects," said District Attorney Zugibe. "Unscrupulous contractors, who cheat workers out of wages and cheat on insurance costs, undercut good, law-abiding contractors. These convictions will send a clear message: all violations of laws involving public works projects in Rockland County will be aggressively prosecuted."
"This past Labor Day we honored the hard work and the past struggles of our workers, and we were reminded of the importance of enforcing our labor laws against unscrupulous employers who cheat their workers out of their hard earned pay," said State Labor Commissioner Gardner. "With the help of District Attorneys like DA Zugibe, we were able to stop this dishonest contractor and will work together to get every last dollar owed to these workers and their families."
The defendant had entered into a contract in 2008 with the State of New York after submitting the lowest bid to do masonry work. As provided by the New York State Labor Law and the terms of this contract, Galbreath was required to pay all workers at the construction site the prevailing wage as set by the State, depending upon what type of work they were performing. He was also required to provide the workers with benefits, such as health insurance, or the pay the cash equivalent of the benefits.
From July 2008 to February 2009, the State of New York paid Galbreath for the work completed on the job site, falsely believing that he was paying the correct prevailing wage to his workers. Instead, Galbreath regularly took money from the State that was due the workers and pocketed a portion of it in violation of the law.
To cover up the theft of his employee's wages, Galbreath falsified payroll information submitted to the State of New York. Certified payrolls submitted by the defendant failed to list which workers were actually working, and falsely stated that the company was paying the workers cash in lieu of benefits, when in fact they were not. The certified payrolls also contained false information about which days and how long the workers worked. In some instances, the workers were not paid any salary.
Galbreath was arrested on Friday, September 3, on a felony arrest warrant and arraigned in the Orangetown Justice Court before the Honorable Judge Finning and was held on $300,000 bail. The defendant is due to return to court on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.
Zugibe and Gardner thanked Investigator Josephine Pagan from the Labor Department's Bureau of Public Work for her work on the case.The charges against the defendant are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. If found guilty, Galbreath faces up to fifteen years in state prison.