Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two Electrical Contractors Arrested in $200,000 Labor Scam

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrests of the owners of Staten Island electrical contractor R3 Electrical, Inc., on felony grand-larceny charges. The owners and the company are charged with failing to pay more than $200,000 in legally required wages on projects upgrading the science labs at five City University of New York campuses and boilers at the city-run Rutgers Houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. If convicted, the contractors face up to 15 years in prison.

R3 Electrical, located at 541 Port Richmond Avenue, were hired as an electrical subcontractor on the 2008-2009 CUNY project and then on a 2009 job funded by the New York Power Authority to upgrade the boilers at the Rutgers Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development.

The owners, Ronald Bartiromo and Raymond D’Auria were arrested on four felony charges, including grand larceny and violation of labor law.

The two allegedly underpaid at least seven employees who repaired science labs at five City University of New York campuses, and at the lower East Side housing project.

Both projects were funded by taxpayers.

New York Labor Law and the contract terms for both projects required the defendants to pay prevailing wages and to submit certified payroll reports showing all hours worked and wages paid. The defendants failed to pay the legally-required wages on both projects to at least seven employees, who worked as electricians, resulting in total underpayments of over $200,000.

The defendants submitted payroll reports to CUNY and NYPA falsely claiming they paid all the workers on the project the required wage. That underpayment was taxpayer dollars that should have gone to the workers.

The 48-year-olds allegedly pocketed the money, and then falsely reported their incomes on their federal and state tax returns.

The defendants were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, each charged with:
(2) counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class "C" felony;
(2) counts of Violation of Labor Law, a Class "C" felony
(20) counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a "D" felony
(20) counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a Class "E" felony.
Both face a prison term up to 15 years.
The company faces the same charges and fines of up to $10,000 on each count.

New York's prevailing wage laws seek to ensure that government contractors pay wages and benefits that are comparable to the local norms for a given trade.

Schneiderman promised to come after “government contractors who cheat their employees and falsify records as they attempt to conceal their misdeeds. Protecting taxpayer dollars and the livelihoods of hard-working New Yorkers is a priority for this office."

City Approves $200M Rebuilding of Pier 17 Mall

The New York City Council unanimously approved plans to tear down the current Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport and replace it with a sleek new $200 million complex with a green roof, marking the end of the long and contentious approval process.  Developer Howard Hughes Corp. made concessions to the council including pushing back construction on the project to allow Hurricane Sandy-battered tenants to have an additional summer season, with construction now scheduled to begin on Oct 1st.

The project calls for a mix of boutique and large retail spaces inside the 250,000-square-foot facility connected by open air pedestrian corridors.

Large glass garage doors can be lowered during inclement weather to protect these open spaces. The new building will include restaurants, rooftop shops, a concert venue and museum, and will be capped with a sustainable green roof.

As part of the City Council approval, the developers will also build two new food markets adjacent to the new structure in the old Link and Tin Buildings.

The developer had wanted to start construction on Pier 17 by July 1 and had asked tenants to leave the building by April 30. But retailers at the storm battered neighborhood, which was shut down for several months following Superstorm Sandy—some businesses are still closed—lobbied to remain open for the summer in order to recoup their losses. Under the agreement, they can stay until Sept. 9, with construction beginning on Oct. 1.

One of the food markets will go into the Tin Building, where the Fulton Fish Market had been before it moved to the Bronx. Howard Hughes had expressed interest in developing the Tin Building and the neighboring New Market building and it has until June 30 to submit a proposal to the city's Economic Development Corp., which controls the land. The City Council deal requires any plan for the Tin Building to include 10,000 square feet for a year-round, seven days a week public market.

Howard Hughes will also be required to develop a second food market selling locally sourced food, likely to be in what is called the Link Building, which is adjacent to the Pier 17 mall and now is home to restaurants and clothing retailers.

The $200 million project is expected to be completed by 2015.
Related Articles:

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Apr 18, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sep 12, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Nov 29, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Dec 2, 2012]