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Post date: January 8 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrests Of Bronx Home Health Care Agency Owners And Manager Who Failed To Pay Workers

Defendants Repeatedly Failed To Pay Employees For Work During A Four-Year Period; Owe Nearly $100K In Back Wages To 62 Employees

Schneiderman: My Office Will Hold Employers Who Cheat Workers Accountable

NEW YORK -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest and arraignment of Maria Etim and Charles Mayers, owners of Bronx-based Concept Home Care Inc., which does business as Golden Apple Home Care, and manager Wayne Patterson. The defendants face felony charges of scheme to defraud, among other counts, for failing to pay 62 home health care aides for all the hours they worked. The defendants were arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett. They face up to four years in prison. 

“A worker’s most basic right is the right to be paid for his or her work,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will take aggressive action, including bringing felony charges, against any employer who breaks the law by failing to pay employees for their labor.” 

According to the 22-count indictment and statements made on the court record, between February 2009 to September 2013, Etim, Mayers and Patterson hired workers for the 3924 East Tremont Avenue business to provide home health care services to patients and induced the aides to keep working without pay by stating or implying that they would eventually pay the workers. Etim, 58, and Mayers, 68, are from Yonkers. Patterson lives in Brooklyn. 

From early 2011 to early this year, state Department of Labor investigators repeatedly visited the office to inform the defendants that workers were owed wages and demanded that they follow the law. On several occasions, a DOL investigator met with Patterson, who held himself out as the managing director of the company. Rather than agreeing to pay employees their wages, Patterson threatened to fire them. Further, after numerous workers quit because they were not paid, the defendants hired new workers, failed to pay workers for all the hours they worked and induced them to keep working with promises of future pay. 

The home health aides hired by the defendants saw to the daily needs of invalid patients. Two of the witnesses worked for a patient who could not communicate and depended on the aides to care for her in every way, including bathing her, brushing her teeth, cooking her meals, and feeding her. Another aide worked for the defendants over a period of several years, during which she was paid only periodically. She ultimately quit after the defendants refused to pay her for three months of work, and she moved to a different agency so she could continue to care for the patient. 

By carrying out this scheme, Etim, Mayers and Patterson deprived workers of thousands of dollars owed to them for the services they performed for Golden Apple Home Care. 

In addition to refusing to pay their workers, the defendants did not have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees from August 2012 to the present, failed to file quarterly tax returns for the business for the years 2012 and 2013, and failed to pay required unemployment insurance taxes for all employees.

The indictment, filed in Bronx Supreme Court, charges Etim, Mayers, Patterson, and Concept Home Care, Inc., with one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, an E felony; one count of Violation of Workers' Compensation Insurance, also an E felony; seven counts of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor; seven counts of Willful Failure to Pay a Contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, an unclassified misdemeanor, and six counts of Failure to Pay Wages in Accordance with the Labor Law, an unclassified misdemeanor. 

The defendants were released on their own recognizance. The charges are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Attorney General Schneiderman’s Labor Bureau has also instituted a civil forfeiture lawsuit to recoup the money owed to the 62 workers and has obtained a forfeiture order permitting the seizure of up to $95,767.96. 

The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Workers' Compensation Board for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution.

Attorney General Investigator Bradford Farrell investigated the case, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Luis Carter, Deputy Chief Vito Spano and Chief Dominick Zarrella.

Assistant Attorneys General Meredith McGowan and Benjamin Holt are prosecuting the case, under the supervision of Section Chief Felice Sontupe, Labor Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg, and Executive Deputy Attorney General For Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. Assistant Attorney General Brian Moore is handling the related asset forfeiture case.

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