Attorney General Cuomo Secures $100,000 In Restitution After Sub-contractor Failed To Pay Wages On State Office Building Construction Project

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 1, 2008) –Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement with a Rochester based construction contractor that secures $100,000 in restitution to 11 workers who were underpaid for their work on the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building in Albany.

The case involves Rochester Flooring Resource, which sub-contracted with Watertown’s Noble Construction Group for a carpet installation project at the historic state building in 2005 and 2006. Noble brought workers from the Watertown area to Albany, but did not pay them prevailing wages as required by state law. The settlement follows criminal convictions against Ricky and Betty Joe Frazier, the owners and operators of Noble, for underpaying the workers more than $90,000. Rochester Flooring Resource is paying restitution plus interest because under New York Labor Law contractors are liable for the failure of their sub-contractors to pay the prevailing wages to workers on public works projects.

“My office is committed to obtaining restitution for hardworking employees who were cheated out of the wages and benefits owed to them” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Contractors on public works projects must ensure that sub-contractors pay the prevailing wages, or risk having to pay the difference themselves.”

According to court records, between June 24, 2005 and July 17, 2006, employees of Noble Construction Group took up temporary residence in Albany County to lay carpet as part of the renovation of the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building. The construction contract was subject to the state's prevailing wage law, which dictates the hourly rates that must be paid to employees on public works projects. The weekly certified payroll records submitted by the Fraziers showed the workers being paid the legal hourly prevailing wage rates of between $33.78 and $67.58 per hour. In reality, the Noble employees were actually paid hourly wages ranging between $8.00 and $33.90 per hour.

On January 25, 2008 Betty Joe Frazier pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying payroll records and failing to pay wages. Her husband, Ricky Frazier, pleaded guilty to failure to pay wages in accordance with the New York State Labor Law. As a further result of their plea, the Fraziers are prohibited from bidding on a public works contract in New York State for five years.

The case was originally referred by the New York State Department of Labor and the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters

M. Patricia Smith, the New York State Commissioner of Labor said, "The State Labor Department is deeply committed to protecting workers' rights and will not tolerate abusive practices by employers. I am so pleased that the Attorney General’s Office was able to recoup a sizable amount of wages owed to these workers. By continuing to work together, we can get the message out that these practices are illegal, that employers will be prosecuted and hopefully, put an end to this type of worker abuse."

Andrew Vooris, Council Representative for the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters said, “We would like to thank the Attorney General for enforcing the laws that protect the working men and women within the Construction Trades in New York State.”

The case is being handled by Richard Balletta, Acting Bureau Chief of the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau, Assistant Attorney General Meredith McGowan, Nancy Snyder of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau and by Investigator Michael Battisti of the Investigations Bureau.