A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Garment Factory Owner For Witness Tampering

Rafoul Abouhamra, Owner Of Ell & H, Inc., Tampered With A Witness Before A Hearing On Wages Owed To Workers

Schneiderman: Witness Tampering Is A Crime And My Office Will Prosecute It Vigorously

NEW YORK --Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest and arraignment of 59-year-old Rafoul Abouhamra, of Brooklyn, for tampering with a witness at a hearing before the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals (IBA). Abouhamra appeared this morning in New York County Criminal Court. Abouhamra is charged with one count each of Tampering with a Witness in the Fourth Degree, Penal Law Section 215.10,a class A misdemeanor and Solicitation, Penal Law Section, 100.05, a Class A misdemeanor.

“Every person, regardless of the job or position, has the right to speak the truth about his or her working conditions,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “In any venue, tampering with a witness is a crime and my office will prosecute it vigorously.”

Abouhamra, owner of the former Ell & H Inc., a garment factory, located at 68 33rd Street, Brooklyn, instructed his former employee to provide false testimony about the number of years she had worked for him. Abouhamra is accused of telling the worker to testify in front of the Industrial Board of Appeals that she'd only worked for him for one year when in fact she was a longtime employee who had worked there for numerous years. According to Labor Law, the longer a person is employed and not being paid the proper wages, the more money the employer is going to owe.

The October 19, 2011 IBA hearing pertained to a New York State Department of Labor order finding that Abouhamra and Ell & H Inc. had committed labor law violations, and ordered them to pay over $100,000 in wages, interest, and penalties, including over $30,000 in wages to the garment worker who was going to serve as a witness. Just as the hearing was scheduled to begin, staff from the Department of Labor and from the Industrial Board of Appeals learned of the tampering. The Industrial Board of Appeals hearing was adjourned. The case was then referred to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The Attorney General would like to thank the Department of Labor and the Industrial Board of Appeals for their cooperation in this matter.

The case was investigated by staff of the Attorney General's office including, Investigator Andres Rodriguez and Senior Investigator Brian Ford under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Michael Ward and Deputy Chief John McManus.

The case is being handled by Labor Bureau Section Chief Felice Sontupe, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.

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