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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Pleas And Convictions Of Three Queens Construction Companies For Failing To Pay 150 Workers Over $370,000 In Wages

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2018

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEAS AND CONVICTIONS OF THREE QUEENS CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES FOR FAILING TO PAY 150 WORKERS OVER $370,000 IN WAGES 

Lotus-C Corporation, Johnco Contracting, Inc., and RCM Painting, Inc. Misclassified Carpenters And Painters as Independent Contractors to Avoid Paying Overtime 

Companies Paid Over $371,000 In Restitution To Workers For Unpaid Wages; Will Pay Another Nearly $360,000 In Unpaid Unemployment Contributions

To Date, AG Has Won Back Over $7 Million in Stolen Wages for NY Construction Workers — and Over $30 Million in Stolen Wages for Over 21,000 Workers Across the State 

QUEENS – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty pleas and convictions of three Queens-based construction companies for misclassifying over 150 workers—including carpenters and painters—as independent contractors to avoid paying them overtime. Lotus-C Corporation, Johnco Contracting, Inc., and RCM Painting Inc., operating out of Jackson Heights, Bayside, and Maspeth respectively, each pled guilty to felony counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. The plea agreements mandated that the defendant corporations pay a total of $371,447.01 for unpaid wages and $359,747.86 in unpaid unemployment contributions to the New York State Department of Labor. Today, the Queens County Supreme Court sentenced each defendant corporation to a conditional discharge, as full payment of the restitution was paid to the Attorney General’s office.

In total, Attorney General Schneiderman has recovered over $30 million in stolen wages for more than 21,000 workers, including over $7 million for construction workers.

“Led by pure greed, the defendants in this case attempted to sidestep the law — misclassifying their employees as a way to stiff them on the overtime pay they rightfully earned,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue to crack down on those who seek to steal from their workers in order to line their own pockets.”

“Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State is committed to exposing bad actors who steal wages from hard working men and women,” said State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “Employee misclassification and records falsification are just some of the ways employers skirt their responsibilities to their workers and to the State. I thank the dedicated Department of Labor investigators and our partners in law enforcement who work every day to ensure that this misconduct doesn’t go unpunished. I urge any worker who feels they’ve been cheated out of their rightful pay to contact the Department of Labor for assistance.”

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that between 2012 and 2017, the defendant corporations repeatedly failed to pay proper overtime wages to more than 150 employees working across the three corporations. Many of these employees, who were laborers, worked well over 40 hours in one week but were only paid a standard time hourly wage, instead of the required time-and-one-half rate for hours worked over 40 hours in one week. In furtherance of their scheme, each corporation had the employees sign a form stating that they were independent contractors, even though the workers were employees as defined by the New York State labor law. Moreover, the companies underreported the number of employees working at these corporations during this period to NYSDOL, and instead falsified their New York State Quarterly Combined Withholding, Wage Reporting and Unemployment Insurance Return forms—resulting in significant underpayment of unemployment contributions to the NYSDOL. 

As part of the plea agreements, the defendant corporations will dissolve the businesses, and the principals of the corporations, Cesar Agudelo of Lotus-C Corp., and John Massino of RCM Painting Inc. and Johnco Contracting, Inc., will be barred for five years from bidding on public works contracts in New York State.  

The Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting workers’ legal rights. To file a complaint, please contact the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau at 212-416-8700 or visit www.ag.ny.gov/labor/complaint-form.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer S. Michael, with the assistance of Legal Assistant II Yadira Filpo, under the direct supervision of Labor Bureau Criminal Section Chief Richard Balletta, Labor Bureau Chief ReNika Moore, and Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. The Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice is Matthew Colangelo and the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice is Margaret Garnett.

This case was investigated by Auditor Louis Adinolfi and Lynne Camileo, Assistant Director of Adjudication and Determination, with the New York State Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Division.

The case was also investigated by New York State Attorney General Investigator Elsa Rojas, under the supervision of Supervising Investigators Sylvia Rivera and Michael Leahy, Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus, and Chief of the Investigations Unit, Dominick Zarrella.