A.G. Schneiderman Secures Jail Sentence For Manager Who Underpaid Workers On Government Construction Projects

Projects Included Construction At LaGuardia Airport And For NYC Department Of Housing Preservation And Development

Owners Of Subcontractor Pleaded Guilty To Felony Charges, Sentenced To Probation And Debarment From Public Works Projects

 

NEW YORK– Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today his office secured a sentence of four months incarceration for William Mazzella, who underpaid workers on public works projects he managed for Decora Construction, LLC, a Mahopac masonry subcontractor. On construction projects at LaGuardia Airport, Mazzella illegally shortchanged workers by paying them less than half of the wages required by law. The Honorable James F. Reitz of the County Court of Putnam County handed down the sentence.

Restitution totaling $800,000 will be made to the underpaid workers.

"Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it in official documents is not a mistake or a paperwork problem - it is criminal behavior. Mr. Mazzella and the owners of this company will now be held accountable for breaking the law and ripping off hardworking New Yorkers," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "When contractors bid on a public project involving taxpayer dollars, they have to play by the rules. These employers did not, and now they have felony criminal convictions."

According to the felony complaint filed in the Mazzella case, Decora Construction operated as a masonry subcontractor from an office in Mahopac, and performed work on two public construction projects at LaGuardia Airport in 2009. Decora Construction submitted certified payroll reports to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns LaGuardia Airport, stating that all workers were paid legally required prevailing wages of between $51.54 and $70.54 per hour. However, Mazzella, the on-site superintendent of Decora Construction, actually paid the workers at rates of between $18 and $25 per hour.

Mazzella was indicted March 28, 2012 on the following five counts: two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, under Penal Law Section 155.40(1), a class C felony; one count of Violation of Labor Law Section 220(3)(d)(i)(2), a class E felony; one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, under Penal Law Section 175.10, a class E felony; and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, under Penal Law Section 175.35, a class E felony.

In addition to charges related to the LaGuardia Airport projects, the indictment charges that from on or about August 2, 2008 to on or about May 6, 2010, Mazzella committed larceny by failing to pay the prevailing wages to workers on an HPD project in the Bronx.  On May 29, 2012, Mazzella pleaded guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, and one count of Violation of Labor Law Section 220(3)(d)(i)(2), a class E felony.

In related charges, Francisco Tavares, an owner of the company, pleaded guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, under Penal Law Section 155.35 and was sentenced by Judge James T. Rooney, also of the County Court of Putnam County on Wednesday. Aurora Perreira, another owner and the ex-wife of Tavares, pleaded guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, under Penal Law Section 175.35, a class E felony, with regard to the LaGuardia Projects alone, and was sentenced earlier this year. Both defendants were sentenced to five years probation. As a condition of probation, the defendants may not work on public construction projects in New York State for five years.

Restitution totaling $800,000 will be made to the underpaid workers through money withheld by HPD and the Port Authority against contract payments.

This case was investigated by the Investigators Robert Ward and Edward Kennedy, under the supervision of Jeffrey Schaffler Supervisor, Confidential Investigations, of the Office of the Inspector General of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Labor Monitoring Unit of the New York City Department of Housing and Preservation (HPD) also assisted the investigation.

The Attorney General thanks the Office of the Inspector General of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and HPD.

Robert E. Van Etten, Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jerseysaid, "Companies doing business with municipalities, state agencies and authorities are legally bound to pay their employees the fair and prevailing wage.  In this case, the defendants chose to line their pockets and enrich themselves at the expense of their workers. This sentencing will serve notice to all contractors that the Port Authority of NY & NJ will not tolerate wage fraud or any other criminal misconduct on public projects. The Port Authority Office of the Inspector General and its Law Enforcement partners will aggressively identify, investigate and bring to justice those who corrupt the integrity of the construction industry."

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Meredith McGowan, under the supervision of Felice Sontupe, Section Chief, Terri Gerstein, Chief of the Labor Bureau, Janet Sabel, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice, and Nancy Hoppock, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.

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