Today’s news:

Astoria man did not pay workers: Cuomo

An Astoria contractor has been accused of failing to pay more than $2 million in wages to employees who worked on numerous schools throughout the five boroughs, including projects in Jamaica, Far Rockaway and Forest Hills, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.

Kostas “Gus” Andrikopoulos of Astoria was arrested and charged with grand larceny, a labor law felony, 385 counts of offering a false instrument for filing and 12 counts of failing to pay wages, the attorney general said. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

“This employer pocketed millions of dollars of taxpayer money and stole from his own workers in the process,” Cuomo said. “To deny workers their rightful wages is illegal and wrong and it will not be tolerated. Employers should be on notice that they must pay legal wages or they will face the consequences.”

In June 2005, the defendant’s company entered into a series of contracts with the city School Construction Authority to do electrical work on numerous schools throughout the city, the attorney general said.

He was awarded a total of nine contracts and was hired as a subcontractor on 32 projects.

State law requires that government contractors submit certified weekly payroll reports. Hara Electric Corporation submitted weekly reports during its work on the schools that included a signature by Andrikopoulos, Cuomo said.

But an investigation allegedly revealed that most of the workers on the list of submitted payrolls never worked for Hara. The defendant was alleged to have been paying his employees far less than the amounts that were being reported.

Andrikopoulos is accused of shortchanging his employees by more than $2 million in wages, the investigation found.

“A contractor whose business strategy is to steal money, underpay his workers and pad his payroll on city jobs will earn an arrest, criminal prosecution and possibly a prison sentence,” said Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city Investigation Department.

The schools at which the defendant’s company did electrical work include PS 40 in Jamaica, PS 104 in Far Rockaway and PS 220 in Forest Hills as well as a number of other sites in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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