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Post date: April 23 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Pleas Of Bronx Home Health Care Agency Owners And Consultant Who Failed To Pay Workers

Defendants Repeatedly Failed To Pay Employees For Work During A Four-Year Period

Defendants Agree To Pay Over $80,000 In Restitution For Back Wages Owed To Former Employees

Schneiderman: A Worker’s Most Fundamental Right Is The Right To Be Fully Paid For Work Performed

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced guilty pleas by Maria Etim and Charles Mayers, the owners of Bronx-based home health care agency Concept Home Care Inc., which did business as Golden Apple Home Care. Last month a consultant for the agency, Wayne Patterson, plead guilty and was sentenced. Etim, Mayers and Patterson admitted to failing to pay 63 former home health aides employed by the company for all of the hours they worked tending to the daily needs of people with disabilities, impairments and other medical needs. As part of the plea, Golden Apple Home Care, Etim and Mayers agreed to pay more than $80,000 in restitution to their former employees.

“A worker’s most fundamental right is the right to be fully paid for work performed,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “These defendants deprived workers of thousands owed to them for the valuable services they provided to some of New York’s most vulnerable patients. Today’s guilty pleas ensure these victims will receive the compensation they are owed, and show that we will take aggressive action, including the criminal prosecution of recalcitrant employers who fail to pay workers.”

“The New York State Department of Labor is dedicated to protecting workers around the state,” said Acting Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino. “When the Department investigates cases such as this, workers must know that these investigations will lead to prosecution and ultimately, restitution. The Labor Department will continue to aggressively investigate cases of wage theft and do its part to ensure that those victimized are made whole. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman and other law enforcement officials across New York for their continuing efforts to bring perpetrators of wage theft to justice.”

According to the plea agreements and court documents, between February 2009 to September 2013, Etim, Mayers and Patterson hired workers for Golden Apple Home Care – located at 3924 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx – to provide home health care services to patients. However, they failed to pay the aides all of their wages owed, inducing them to keep working by stating or implying that they would eventually be paid.

The workers saw to the daily needs of people with physical impairments and other medical needs. Two aides worked for a patient who could not communicate and depended on them 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 defendants only paid her 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.

Starting in early 2011, investigators with the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) repeatedly visited Golden Apple Home Care to inform the defendants that workers were owed wages and demanded that defendants follow the law. On several occasions, a DOL investigator met with Patterson, who held himself out as a consultant/manager for the company. Rather than agreeing to pay employees their wages, Patterson threatened to fire them. Furthermore, after numerous workers quit because they were not paid, the defendants continued to hire new workers and subsequently failed to pay those workers for all the hours they worked. Once again, these workers were induced to keep working with promises of future pay that never came to fruition.

Maria Etim, 58, and Charles Mayers, 68, both of Yonkers, each entered guilty pleas in Bronx Supreme Court to one count each of the unclassified misdemeanor of Failure to Pay Wages under Section 198-a(1) of the New York State Labor Law. Golden Apple Home Care plead guilty to one count of the felony of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree under Section 190.65(1)(b) under the New York State Penal Law. Wayne Patterson, 49 of Brooklyn, separately plead guilty to one count of Failure to Pay Wages under Section 198-a(1) of the Labor Law last month.

Etim and Mayers will return to the Bronx Supreme Court on May 26 for sentencing.

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.

The investigation was handled for the Attorney General’s Office by Investigator Bradford Farrell, Supervising Investigator Luis Carter, Deputy Chief Vito Spano, Chief Dominick Zarrella, and Department of Labor investigator Jose Mendez.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ross and Section Chief Richard Balletta of the Labor Bureau. Terri Gerstein is the Labor Bureau Chief, Alvin Bragg is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice and Kelly Donovan is the Executive Deputy Attorney General For Criminal Justice. Assistant Attorney General Brian Moore is handling the related asset forfeiture case.