Largest Single Wage Recovery in DOL's 115-Year History
Employer Pleads Guilty to Theft of Wages, Convicted of Grand Larceny
AGL Industries Will Return Stolen Wages to 499 Workers
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a joint investigation between the New York State Department of Labor and the Manhattan District Attorney's Construction Fraud Task Force has led to a plea agreement that will return approximately $6 million in stolen wages to about 500 welders and iron workers, the largest single wage recovery in DOL's 115-year history. The investigation began following a referral by the Manhattan District Attorney and Iron Workers Local 361 in February 2018.
"We have absolutely zero tolerance for any business that exploits workers and robs employees of hard-earned wages - period," Governor Cuomo said. "With this plea agreement we're holding AGL Industries accountable for its fraudulent practices and returning millions in stolen wages to hundreds of welders and iron workers."
The joint investigation revealed that from November 2013 until December 2017, AGL Industries - based in Maspeth, Queens County - cheated workers out of overtime pay and wages owed and reported fraudulent financial information to the state. When workers brought concerns about underpayment to the company, they were told that there was nothing they could do to receive their proper wages.
This monumental victory for construction workers—who face some of the most treacherous working conditions of any industry and widespread exploitation—is the latest high-profile takedown by the Task Force aiming to prosecute wage theft to the fullest extent of the law.
The structural steel fabrication company has admitted to 3rd Degree Grand Larceny and will pay back the money on a five-year plan, starting with a $1.5 million payment on August 13th. Company official Dominic Lofaso also pleaded guilty to a Class D felony for Grand Larceny.
In total, AGL will be responsible for $6.25 million in restitution, which in addition to wage restitution also includes $260,855 in contributions due to the state's Unemployment Insurance fund.
Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Wage theft and fraud have no place in New York, and unscrupulous companies who break the law will be held accountable. I thank our diligent investigators and Manhattan prosecutors, as well as the heads-up from Local 361 that helped expose these crooks and bring them to justice."
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, "This landmark conviction will restore nearly $6 million to workers who were cheated out of their rightful earnings. Hundreds of iron workers and welders will now see their wages restored, thanks to my Office's Construction Fraud Task Force - which has restored approximately $7.4 million to workers since its creation - and the New York State Department of Labor. We are committed to fighting wage theft, which impacts employees across all industries, but is especially common in the construction industry. I urge anyone whose earnings are being stolen to contact our Task Force through WhatsApp at (646) 712-0298, where you can submit tips anonymously."
Matthew Chartrand, Business Manager for the Ironworker's Local 361 said, "It is our job as labor leaders to assist all workers when they are being wronged. Through the efforts of the Construction Fraud Task Force, as well as the great team at the Department of Labor, one of the bad players in the construction field is being brought to justice. Thanks to all — this is a great job for the benefit of workers!"
In 2018, the New York State Department of Labor collected nearly $35 million and returned that money to approximately 35,000 workers victimized by wage theft and public work violations. Since 2011, DOL has recovered nearly $300 million in stolen wages and returned it to more than 280,000 workers who were cheated by their employers.