FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Brooklyn Construction Company, Long Beach Owner with Public Contracts Charged with Underpaying Workers by Over Half a Million Dollars
Defendants Allegedly Paid Less than the Prevailing Wage on 15 Construction Contracts
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that a Brooklyn-based construction company and its owner have been charged with underpaying employees assigned to public works projects, stealing more than $568,000 in wages. The projects were financed by the New York City School Construction Authority and other government agencies.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants were entrusted with public funds for public projects and, in exchange, they promised to pay the prevailing wage to their employees, who were repairing Brooklyn schools and other facilities. As alleged, the defendants breached that trust, falsifying official records and stealing the hard-earned wages of their employees. This prosecution shows that employers who think they can siphon employee wages without repercussions are mistaken, and we will also work to make sure these employees are fully compensated.”
Commissioner Peters said “This construction company owner exploited his City contracts and stole from employees to pad his own wallet, paying some workers less than a third of what they were owed per hour for their hard labor, according to the charges. Prevailing wage theft is a callous and costly crime: It cheats workers out of wages, defrauds the City and compromises the integrity of construction sites. DOI will continue to work with its partners to ensure companies who ignore these laws answer for their crimes.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendants as Michael Riglietti, 49, of Long Beach, New York, and his company MSR Electrical Construction Company, previously located at 31 Bay Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on charges of second-degree grand larceny, violation of New York State Labor Law Section 220, first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, and first-degree falsifying business records. The defendants are expected to return to court on May 24, 2017.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendants were granted 15 public works contracts from three government agencies between December 2012 and December 2015. In particular, the defendants were contracted by the NYC SCA to complete electrical work in 13 public schools including four Brooklyn schools: P.S. 164 and P.S. 767 in Borough Park, and P.S. 297 and I.S. 49 in Williamsburg. The defendants were also contracted by the New York State Office of General Services to perform work at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, and as subcontractors by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for services at five locations in Manhattan and Queens.
In total, the defendants stole over $568,000 in contract revenue they should have paid to employees on these projects.
Labor Law and the public works contracts required the defendants to pay prevailing wages and benefits to all employees who worked on these projects. The defendants listed the names of the four electricians on the certified payroll reports submitted to NYC SCA, the MTA and OGS, which asserted that the defendants had paid all workers the required prevailing wage of between $51-$54 per hour, plus benefits of $42.45-$50.13. The defendants are accused of instead paying their employees between $13.50-$25 per hour, without overtime or required benefits, pocketing over $500,000 in public funds that rightfully belonged to the four employees.
Following an initial investigation by the NYC SCA Office of the Inspector General, the case was referred to the Labor Frauds Unit of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau.
The Acting District Attorney has filed an asset forfeiture action seeking to recover the victims’ lost wages.
The case was investigated by NYC SCA Office of the Inspector General Intelligence Investigator Hilary Hart, Investigative Accountant Raymond Dowd, Investigator Charles Shevlin, Deputy Counsel Celeste Sharpe under the supervision of Assistant Inspector General Nicholas Scicutella, Deputy Inspector General Gerard McEnroe and Vice President/Inspector General Maria Mostajo, who reports to New York City Department of Investigation Associate Commissioner James Flaherty. The case was also investigated by New York City Police Detective Robert Magrino of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Criminal Enterprise Division, under the supervision of New York City Police Sergeant Igor Galitsky and New York City Police Lieutenant Charles Scalzo.
The case was further investigated by Senior Assistant District Attorney John Genovese, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, and Susan Ryan, Supervising Financial Investigator, under the supervision of Greg Mitchel, Bureau Chief. The Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau initiates forfeiture proceedings to recoup illegal proceeds from offenders who have engaged in and profited from illegal activities.
The Acting District Attorney thanked the New York City School Construction Authority, the New York State Office of General Services and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for their assistance and cooperation.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Dana Roth, Deputy Bureau Chief and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.