A.G. Schneiderman Obtains Jail Sentence For Electrical Contractor Who Underpaid Workers On NYC School Construction Projects
Kostas “Gus” Andrikopoulos Sentenced To Four Months Behind Bars; Must Pay $750,000 In Unpaid Wages To A Dozen Laborers
Schneiderman: Theft of Wages Is Illegal, And Employers Who Break The Law May Go To Jail
NEW YORK -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has secured a jail sentence for Kostas “Gus” Andrikopoulos, the owner of Hara Electric Corp., for failing to pay workers legal wages on numerous construction projects at New York City public schools. Andrikopoulos, who previously pleaded guilty, was sentenced to a four-month intermittent jail term by Queens Supreme Court Justice John Latella. The defendant, who as part of his plea agreement is required to pay $750,000 in restitution to underpaid workers, has so far paid $400,000 of the total.
"Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it on official government paperwork are criminal acts, plain and simple," Attorney General Schneiderman said."My office will take aggressive action against intransigent employers who disregard the law - and we will put criminals behind bars."
New York City Department of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, "Stealing from workers and lying to the City is no way to do business in New York City."
According to court documents, from June 1, 2005, to November 30, 2008, Andrikopoulos, 62, owned and operated Hara Electric Corp., based at 24-61 47th Street, Astoria, Queens. During this time, Hara performed electrical work on multiple projects funded by the New York City School Construction Authority at public schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Under the terms of the contracts and Labor Law Section 220, Hara was required to pay its employees the prevailing wages (including supplemental benefits) of $76.93 to $112.69 per hour. Andrikopoulos admitted in court that rather than adhere to the law and the contract conditions, he paid at least 12 workers at hourly rates of $13 to $42 per hour, significantly less than the law's requirements for the types of work performed.
In order to receive payment on the projects, Hara had to submit payroll reports with the names of all the workers on each project and certify that Hara had paid the workers the prevailing wage for every hour worked. To avoid detection and retain the money that rightfully belonged to the workers, Andrikopoulos certified and filed false payroll reports that did not include the names of the underpaid workers who had been paid in cash. Instead, the payroll reports listed the names of other individuals who did not work on these projects.
New York's prevailing wage law seeks to ensure that government contractors pay wages that are comparable to the local norms for a given trade. The law requires hourly rates for construction work performed for public agencies that are well above the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, along with benefits, and also higher wages for overtime, weekends, or work at night.
Andrikopoulos and Hara Electric Corp. were indicted on July 26, 2011, under indictment number 1478/2011. The indictment charged the defendants with 1 count each of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, in violation of Penal Law § 155.42, a class B felony; Violation of Labor Law § 220(3)(d)(i)(2), a class E felony; 16 counts each of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, in violation of Penal Law § 175.10, a class E felony; and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, in violation of Penal Law § 175.35, a class E felony.
On August 13, 2012, Hara Electric Corp. pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Andrikopoulos pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts, Failure to Pay Wages in Accordance with the Labor Law, under Labor Law § 198-a, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, under Penal Law § 175.30.
The case was investigated by First Assistant Inspector General Gerard McEnroe and Investigators Lee Callier and James O'Brien of the New York City School Construction Authority Office of the Inspector General. The Attorney General thanks the New York City School Construction Authority Office of the Inspector General, which is overseen by the New York City Department of Investigation, for their investigation and assistance in this prosecution.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Meredith McGowan and Section Chief Felice Sontupe, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein, and overseen by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan, and First Deputy Attorney General for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.