Investigaton Of Wage Violations In Mahopac Results In Charges Against Contractors And Loss Of License For Architect
Attorney General Spitzer today announced the filing of criminal charges against three construction contractors for failing to pay prevailing wages and benefits to workers employed on sites that were part of the Mahopac Central School District's $35 million capital improvement project.
In the course of that investigation, Spitzer's office uncovered separate evidence on the project, which, along with a series of independent concerns by the State Education Department, resulted in a $30,000 fine and a forfeiture of the license of project architect and construction manager James Corrado Piccone, 60, of Ossining, for substandard construction practices. Upon Spitzer's notification in February 2004 of the School District of its findings regarding construction practices, the Mahopac Central School District closed the new middle school gymnasium and the Austin Road Elementary School cafeteria for remediation.
Two of the contractors have pled guilty to felony charges of Offering a False Instrument for Filing. On July 14, Lawrence Bader, 45, the President of Energy Service and Systems, of Cortlandt Manor, admitted before Judge Robert Miller, in Putnam County Court, that he had created and submitted false certified payrolls to the school district to avoid paying the prevailing wage. Under the plea agreement, Bader will pay $240,000 in restitution to 14 workers who were not paid the prevailing wage under the project contract. He is scheduled for sentencing on October 13.
On August 19th, DJH Mechanical Associates, LTD, a mechanical engineering firm based in Mount Vernon, pled guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First degree, a class "E" felony. Under the plea agreement, DJH will pay restitution up to approximately $640,000 for prevailing wage violations. Sentencing on the matter is scheduled for November 10.
Also facing charges is Don Adams Roofing, a family-owned corporation, and its vice-president Dennis Adams, 31, of Hawthorne, who were named in a 23-count indictment returned by a Putnam County grand jury alleging that the company and Adams filed false certified payrolls. The defendants pled not guilty on August 4, 2004 and their next scheduled court appearance is September 13.
The charges in the indictment against Dennis Adams and Don Adams Roofing are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
"The prevailing wage law provides a level playing field during the bidding processes for public work," said Spitzer. "Contractors who seek to skirt the law by cutting corners, or by hiring unqualified labor, potentially compromise the integrity of the work."
The Education Department's action against Piccone came about as a result of a review by an independent firm retained by Spitzer's office in January 2004 that found "...that the construction in the field does not appear to meet the minimum code requirements required by New York State and therefore may impose a risk to the occupants."
"Upon being advised of those findings, my office shared the information with the Mahopac School District, which took immediate action," said Spitzer.
State Education Department Commissioner Richard P. Mills applauded the coordinated work that produced the action against Piccone. "Today's announcement reflect the commitment of the Attorney General and the New York State Board of Regents to protect the public and the integrity of the licences professions," said Mills. "The Board of Regents licenses and disciplines 44 health, business and design professions to ensure the safety of the public."
The Attorney General acknowledged the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW, Local 363, and the Sheet Metal Worker's International Association, Local 38, for bringing the prevailing wage violations to his office's attention.
The criminal cases were prosecuted by Mary Kavaney, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Poughkeepsie Office and Assistant Attorney General Lynn Tabbott, of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. Assistance was provided by Lester Dier of the Investigations Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office, Daniel McCormack, Public Work Wage Investigator, of the New York State Department of Labor, and Special Agent Cheryl Garcia of the United States Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General.