NY: $6 Million In Wage Theft Recuperated In Joint Investigation

Toni Sutton-Deangelico

Maspeth, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that about $6 million in stolen wages that belong to approximately 500 ironworkers and welders will be returned. The joint investigation between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Construction Fraud Task Force and the New York State Department of Labor had led to a plea agreement, and the money that’s being recovered is the largest single wage recovery in the DOL’s 115 year history.

The investigation started after a referral by the Iron Workers Local 361 and the Manhattan District Attorney in Feb 2018. According to a DOL spokesperson, a worker’s complaint set everything in motion.

The investigation exposed that from Nov 2013 until December 2017, ALG Industries, based in of Maspeth, Queens County, had been cheating workers out of overtime pay and wages owed and reported fraudulent financial information to the state.

In the Plea Agreement, the structural steel fabrication admitted to 3rd Degree Grand Larceny. It states that from about 2013 through about 2017, AGL deposited into its corporate bank account or cashed checks at check-cashing locations, checks totaling more than $15,242,409.00, written to AGL for work performed in New York County and other locations, and failed to properly report this money as income to the New York State Department of Tax & Finance (NYSDTF).

Specifically, from 2013 through 2017, AGL had the following wages paid to employees that were not reported to NYSDTF:

$104,125.00 for Year 2013
$1,033,833.25 for Year 2014
$1,479,163.12 for Year 2015
$2,520,322.54 for Year 2016
$1,410,854.47 for Year 2017

The identified wages totaled $6,597,993.38 and resulted in unpaid New York State withholding taxes. Of the remaining $8,644,415.62 that was cashed, approximately $1 million was unreported income while the rest constituted cash payroll separate and apart from the unpaid wages.

“We have absolutely zero tolerance for any business that exploits workers and robs employees of hard-earned wages – period,” Cuomo said in a press release. “With this plea agreement, we’re holding AGL Industries accountable for its fraudulent practices and returning millions in stolen wages to hundreds of welders and ironworkers.”

DOL Commissioner, Roberta Reardon, noted: “I thank our diligent investigators and Manhattan prosecutors, as well as the heads-up from Local 361 that helped expose these crooks and bring them to justice.”

In the same press release, Matthew Chartrand, Business Manager for the Ironworker’s Local 361, says, “It is our job as labor leaders to assist all workers when they are being wronged. One of the bad players in the construction field is being brought to justice. Thanks to all — this is a great job for the benefit of workers!”

In all, 499 employees will receive a check for their share of AG L’s original payment of $1.5 million that went towards the total wages owed. The amount that remains will be paid in installments quarterly over the next five years.

If the employer does not make payments “they could face the maximum sentence allowed under the law for violating the terms of the plea agreement, which includes being incarcerated in state prison” a DOL spokesperson told WorkersCompensation.com. “The Department of Labor is committed to aggressively pursuing justice for workers who have been cheated by their employers and denied their proper wages. We are also committed to maintaining a level playing field for New York’s businesses. Companies that don’t follow the laws gain an unfair advantage over their competitors, hurting honest employers and the people who work for them. We will not allow unscrupulous employers to circumvent the law.”

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