Attorney General Cuomo Secures Wages And Guilty Plea From Owner Of An Erie County Plumbing And Heating Company Who Ripped Off Employees

BUFFALO, N.Y. (February 6, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a Clarence plumbing and heating company owner has admitted to trying to fleece his employees and was forced to pay them their past-due wages.

In 2007, Salvatore Musso, owner of Musso Plumbing and Heating, Inc. of Sheridan Drive in Clarence, was forced to pay thousands of dollars in overdue wages to the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) after an audit revealed that he had failed to compensate his employees for overtime hours and had made illegal deductions from their paychecks.

The DOL then sent checks to the affected employees. Once the employees received their compensation, however, Musso demanded they cash the checks and then hand the cash over to him or lose their jobs. The Department of Labor became aware that several employees did return the funds to Musso, and the Attorney General intervened in seeking to recover those wages.

Musso pleaded guilty to Attempted Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree before Judge Robert G. Sillars in the Town of Clarence Court. As part of his plea, he has paid the remaining $2,860.45 in wages due to employees.

“Western New York workers were exploited and degraded by this employer’s criminal actions,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Hard-working New Yorkers must receive the compensation they have been promised and are entitled to under the law, or their employers will face consequences.”

In 2006, the Department of Labor conducted an audit that concluded that Musso failed to pay his employees for all the hours they had worked and was making illegal deductions from their paychecks in violation of the New York State Minimum Wage and Wage Payment Laws. The DOL then collected the overdue wages from Musso and disbursed individual checks to the affected employees. Musso then demanded that certain employees give him back the cash or he would fire them. The DOL then referred the case to the Attorney General Cuomo’s office when it became aware of the extortion.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked the Department of Labor for its participation in the case. The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Letizia Tagliafierro of the Buffalo Regional Office under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In-Charge Russell T. Ippolito, Gail Heatherly, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice and James Rogers, Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice. The investigation was handled by OAG Investigators Michael McCartney and Paul R. Scherf and Department of Labor Investigator Jeanette Castagnola.

 

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