Crooked Contractor Arrested for Wage Theft
February 6, 2013 8:38 am
Last Labor Day, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed to get tough on wage theft. Monday, he made good on this promise, announcing the arrest and arraignment of Leonid Fridman, a contractor hired to work on the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2009 and 2010. Fridman was paying union journeymen a mere fraction of their going rate, and also demanding kickbacks from workers while laundering money to cover his tracks. Fridman seems an ideal example for the AG’s tough new policies.
Schneiderman’s office issued a press release describing Fridman’s misdeeds:
“Mr. Fridman not only stole state dollars from his own workers, but he demanded kickbacks and laundered money to cover his tracks.” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to take action, including filing criminal charges, against employers who violate New York’s labor laws, steal taxpayer dollars and violate the public trust.”
Fridman, 60, owned and operated Millennium Commercial Corp., a Brooklyn-based company that performed tile work. …Under the Port Authority contract for the project and the Labor Law, the defendant was required to pay his employees over $50 per hour for Laborers and Mason Tenders and over $70 per hour for Tile Setters. According to court records, Fridman was aware that he was required to pay the prevailing wages but still paid his workers only $10 to $30 per hour.
Fridman’s bail was posted at $5,000, and he could face five to as many as 15 years in prison. The contractor’s callous violations are interesting in light of the recent wage theft law passed by Chicago City Council. City Council voted to pass a tough new law that could strip employers guilty of repeated, egregious wage theft of their licenses. (The “egregious” language was added by local business groups who worried that the law could affect those who would be in violation due to bookkeeping errors.)
Fridman not only violated prevailing wage laws, but underpaid his workers by over 50 percent and intimidated them into giving him kickbacks — egregious is truly the word. Perhaps state AGs will be able to more easily identify cases worthy of prosecution as wage theft continues to rise.
Image from here