A.G. Underwood Announces Arrest Of WWJ Construction, Inc. Owner For Failure To Pay Workers Over $29K In Wages
News from the New York Attorney General's Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2018
Attorney General's Office Press Office / 212-416-8060
A.G. UNDERWOOD ANNOUNCES ARREST OF WWJ CONSTRUCTION, INC. OWNER FOR FAILURE TO PAY WORKERS OVER $29K IN WAGES
WWJ Construction & Owner Shing Tung Wong Repeatedly Failed To Pay at Least Five Employees Thousands of Dollars In Back Wages
Since 2011, NY AG Has Recovered Over $30 Million in Stolen Wages for 21,000 Workers
QUEENS – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced the arrest and arraignment of Shing Tung Wong, 63, of Queens, owner of WWJ Construction, Inc. for allegedly failing to pay five construction workers for hourly work. Wong and WWJ Construction are charged with collectively stealing over $29,000 from their employees by repeatedly lying to the workers about eventually receiving full compensation.
“To repeatedly promise employees their rightfully owed wages and then never follow through with payment is exploitative – and illegal,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Employees deserve fair compensation for their labor, and my office will continue to combat wage theft across New York.”
Since 2011, the New York Attorney General's office has recovered over $30 million in stolen wages for 21,000 workers across New York.
The felony complaint and statements made during today’s arraignment reveal that between January 1, 2014 and June 22, 2017, Wong allegedly personally hired five workers and promised a specific rate of pay ranging from $130 to $160 per day for five to six days of work each week. Wong ran the day-to-day operations of his construction company and arranged for most employees to meet at a predetermined location in Queens, where he or other workers would drive them all to various construction projects in the New York region – including Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, and Westchester. Workers performed carpentry, demolition, renovations, and electrical work, primarily for residential homes.
After the first few weeks of a worker’s employment, Wong allegedly stopped making weekly wage payments to workers. When workers asked about their earned wages, Wong repeatedly promised that payment was imminent and asked them to continue to work based on this promise. Workers waited for full compensation week after week, but Wong only allegedly paid them sporadically or not at all. Workers continually asked Wong for their wages, and Wong would allegedly promise them that payment was coming when he received payment from the client. Eventually, workers quit after not receiving their earned and legally owed wages. Even after workers quit, they still attempted to contact Wong to demand owed wages – but Wong allegedly ignored their requests for payment.
The six-count felony complaint filed in Queens County charges both defendants, Wong and WWJ Construction, with three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony; two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a Class E felony; and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class E Felony.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
The investigation was handled by Senior Investigator Lawrence Riccio, with the assistance of Investigators Melissa Kaplan, Anna Ospanova, and Lina Burgos under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera, Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus, and Chief Dominick Zarrella of the Investigations Bureau.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer S. Michael, under the supervision of Criminal Section Chief Richard Balletta and Bureau Chief ReNika Moore of the Labor Bureau, and Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Social Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Matthew Colangelo and the Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.