A husband and wife and a Valley Stream construction business have pleaded guilty for failing to pay proper prevailing wages to workers and falsifying business records related to publicly-funded New York City construction school projects.
Attorney General Letitia James said in a Feb. 11 statement that Vickram Mangru, his wife Gayatri Mangru, and AVM Construction Corp., of Valley Stream, NY, failed to pay three workers their required prevailing and overtime wages, as well as supplemental benefits from December 2012 through February 2015.
The defendants unlawfully falsified payroll records to conceal their crimes, and thereby stole more than $280,000 from three workers.
“Intentionally underpaying workers is both highly illegal and immoral,” James said in the statement. “Not only did the defendants take advantage of innocent workers trying to earn a living, they also took advantage of New York City by falsifying records to the Department of Education. This office will never hesitate to investigate any employer who tries to cheat our workers or our government.”
As a condition of their pleas, the defendants will pay $80,000 in restitution to the three workers before their sentencing. Vickram Mangru will be sentenced to 30 days of incarceration and will subsequently serve three years probation; while AVM Construction Corp. and Gayatri Mangru will be sentenced to conditional discharges and additional fines. A judgment order of restitution will be entered for the remaining amount owed.
In addition, all defendants will be barred from bidding on or being awarded any public works contract in the State of New York for five years.
“An honest days work deserves an honest days pay and when employers cheat workers from the wages they rightfully earned, regardless of their status, it’s labor abuse at its worst,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Despite being debarred, this unscrupulous contractor attempted to use his wife’s name to open a company and take advantage of immigrant workers by withholding their prevailing wages yet again — now he is facing the consequences of his actions. I would like to thank the Attorney General for working side by side with my office to prosecute this contractor and bring justice to the workers who are owed their fair share.”
Between Dec. 22, 2012 and April 12, 2014, Vickram Mangru—as owner of Vick Construction—failed to pay several of his employees’ proper prevailing wages for construction and repair work on several public schools in the Bronx. State law requires that on certain construction projects designated as “public works,” workers must be paid a pre-determined industry minimum wage per hour, plus a benefit rate, collectively known as a “prevailing wage rate.”
Instead of paying this prevailing wage rate, the investigation revealed that Mangru allegedly paid his workers between $120 and $160/day for 40-50 hours worked per week – an amount far less than what his employees were owed under the prevailing wage rate. To cover up the crime, Mangru falsified Certified Payroll Records and Reports submitted to the New York City Department of Education by claiming that he did pay workers the proper prevailing wage rate.
The New York City Comptroller’s Office previously barred the defendant Mangru, from obtaining contracts for public works projects in New York City after he was found to be in violation of labor laws. The Comptroller’s Office referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office after Mangru created a new company in an attempt to continue operating in New York City, but was allegedly still committing labor violations.