Electrical Contractor Found Guilty of Underpaying Workers

Dec. 26, 2017
Victims set to receive more than $700,000 in back wages

A Brooklyn-based electrical construction company and its owner recently pleaded guilty to grand larceny for stealing more than $700,000 from workers by failing to pay the prevailing wage on public works projects. According to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the projects were financed by the New York City School Construction Authority and other government agencies.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants got lucrative public works contracts and then shamefully stole money from their own employees. In Brooklyn, we will not allow hard-earned wages to be stolen from hardworking employees. This decision to steal wages turned out to be a very costly theft for these defendants and should serve as notice to others considering cheating employees that they will be prosecuted.”

Gonzalez identified the defendants as Michael Riglietti, 50, of Long Beach, N.Y., and his company MSR Electrical Construction Company. Both pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny and to violating the prevailing wage requirements of the New York State Labor Law. Riglietti will be sentenced to five years’ probation and the company will receive a conditional discharge. Both will be debarred from public works contracts for five years and agreed to forfeit $2.5 million. Of that amount, more than $700,000 will be distributed to five workers. The defendants will be sentenced on March 28, 2018.

Gonzalez said that, according to the investigation, the defendants were granted 15 public works contracts from three government agencies between December 2012 and December 2015. In particular, the defendants were contracted by the NYC SCA to complete electrical work in 13 public schools including four Brooklyn schools: P.S. 164 and P.S. 767 in Borough Park, and P.S. 297 and I.S. 49 in Williamsburg. The defendants were also contracted by the New York State Office of General Services to perform work at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, and as subcontractors by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for services at five locations in Manhattan and Queens.

Labor Law and the public works contracts required the defendants to pay prevailing wages and benefits to all employees who worked on these projects. The defendants listed variously the names of the five electricians on the certified payroll reports submitted to NYC SCA, the MTA and OGS, which asserted that the defendants had paid all workers the required prevailing wage of $54 per hour, plus benefits of $40.16 to $51.86. Instead, the defendants paid their employees on average between $13.50 to $25 per hour, without overtime or required benefits, pocketing more than $700,000 in public funds that rightfully belonged to the five employees.