A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea Of Queens Construction Company Owners For Failing To Pay Workers

Laborers Received No Wages For Weeks of Work

Employers Are Ordered To Pay Full Back Wages

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea and sentencing of Tsai Hsun Chang and Catherine T. Liu for failing to pay wages to workers on private construction projects in Queens. Chang and Liu admitted to a misdemeanor count of Failure to Pay Wages and provided a check to pay their victims the full $18,680 they are due in back wages.

Chang, 61, and Liu, 68, owned and operated Onward Construction, Inc., in Flushing, Queens, a company that performed work on residential homes, including demolition, drywall, painting and carpentry work. The Defendants failed to pay seven employees the wages they were owed between March 1, 2011, and September 30, 2011.

The workers will receive back pay, ranging from $630 to $4,140 depending on the hours they worked without pay.

"The most basic right of an employee is the right to be paid for your work and in New York failing to pay wages is a criminal act," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "My office will take strong action, including bringing criminal charges against employers who ignore the labor laws."

Chang and Liu paid restitution to their former employees plus nearly $2,000 to the state Unemployment Insurance Division for unpaid unemployment insurance.

They were arrested, pleaded guilty and sentenced November 14 by Queens Criminal Court Judge Deborah Stevens Modica. They were sentenced to a conditional discharge and were ordered to perform 5 days each of community service.

The Defendants were charged with two counts of Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class "E" felony, seven counts of Failure to Pay Wages, a class "A" misdemeanor, three counts of Failure to Pay Unemployment Insurance Contributions, a misdemeanor and three counts of Tax Fraud in the Fifth Degree, a class "A" misdemeanor.  

New York's laws require that employers pay workers for all work that is performed. The law requires employers to pay at least the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour plus time-and-a-half for overtime hours.

The investigation was conducted by New York Attorney General Investigator Sixto Santiago, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Kenneth Morgan and Deputy Chief Vito Spano.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Holt, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Section Chief Felice Sontupe, Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein, Executive Deputy Attorney for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel.

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