PEF investigators take part in DOL’s ‘largest single wage recovery’ in 115-year history
BY KATE MOSTACCIO
Nearly 500 welders and ironworkers employed by AGL Industries in Maspeth, Queens County, will see the return of approximately $6 million in stolen wages following a plea agreement that resulted from a joint investigation by the state Department of Labor (DOL) and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Construction Fraud Task Force.
The amount of pay the workers will receive under the agreement was calculated by PEF members and all of the behind-the-scenes DOL investigative work was done by PEF members.
“It was a lot of work, and all that work was done by PEF members. The case took a year,” a PEF member with knowledge of the case said. “They did all the computations on the case and figured out how much was owed to each person.”
The case began when the Iron Workers Local 361 and the Manhattan DA made a referral to the state in February of 2018. The DOL investigation uncovered that AGL Industries had “cheated workers out of overtime pay and wages owed and reported fraudulent financial information to the state,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“When workers brought concerns about underpayment to the company, they were told that there was nothing they could do to receive their proper wages,” the member said.
PEF DOL members were an integral part of the investigation process, conducting interviews, reviewing time cards and payroll, and scouring records.
“This is what we do day in and day out,” the member said. “The complaint came in and we realized it was a huge case. It was a massive amount of work.”
AGL admitted to third-degree grand larceny and will pay back the money over a five-year plan. They were ordered to make the first payment of $1.5 million August 13, according to the press release. In addition, company official, Dominic Lofaso, also pleaded guilty to a class D felony for grand larceny.
In total, AGL will pay $6.25 million in restitution, which includes $260,855 in contributions to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Fund.
“It is our job as labor leaders to assist all workers when they are being wronged,” stated Matthew Chartrand, business manager for the Ironworker’s Local 361 in the Governor’s release. “Through the efforts of the Construction Fraud Task Force, as well as the great team at the Department of Labor, one of the bad players in the construction field is being brought to justice. Thanks to all — this is a great job for the benefit of workers.”
State DOL Commissioner Roberta Reardon commended her staff and the DA.
“Wage theft and fraud have no place in New York, and unscrupulous companies who break the law will be held accountable,” she stated in the governor’s release. “I thank our diligent investigators and Manhattan prosecutors, as well as the heads-up from Local 361 that helped expose these crooks and bring them to justice.”
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