Feb. 7, 2018 By Tara Law
Three Queens-based construction companies, including Lotus-C Corporation of Jackson Heights, pleaded guilty of cheating 150 workers out of overtime wages, announced the New York State Attorney General’s office today.
The company, along with Johnco Contracting Inc. of Bayside and RCM Painting Inc. of Maspeth, misclassified the workers as independent contractors between 2012 and 2017 to avoid paying overtime.
The three firms pleaded guilty to felony counts of fourth degree grand larceny and first degree falsifying of business records.
The companies must collectively pay a total of $371,000 in unpaid wages and $360,000 in unpaid unemployment contributions to the Department of Labor.
Many of the employees worked more than 40 hours a week but were not paid the required time-and-one-half overtime rate, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office.
The corporations required the workers to sign a form stating that they were independent contractors, although they met the criteria of being employees under state labor law.
The corporations also under reported the number of employees to the state’s Department of Labor and falsified their New York State Quarterly Combined Withholding, Wage Reporting and Unemployment Insurance Return forms, enabling them to underpay their unemployment contributions.
The Queens County Supreme Court sentenced the companies to a conditional discharge, meaning that no punishment has been imposed as long as no other offenses are committed in the future, since restitution was paid to the Attorney General’s office.
“Led by pure greed, the defendants in this case attempted to sidestep the law — misclassifying their employees as a way to stiff them on the overtime pay they rightfully earned,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “My office will continue to crack down on those who seek to steal from their workers in order to line their own pockets.”
The corporations are being dissolved as part of the plea deal.
The corporations’ principals, Cesar Agudelo of Lotus-C Corp. and John Massino of RCM Painting Inc. and Johnco Contracting Inc., have been barred for five years from bidding on public works contracts in New York State.