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Woodside firm fined for stiffing its painters

The Nassau County Courthouse was not only where LaGuardia Construction Inc. was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to grossly underpaying its employees — it was also the scene of the crime.

The construction firm, at 47-40 48th St. in Woodside, pleaded guilty last Thursday to offering a false instrument for filing, the Nassau County district attorney’s office said. The firm had not paid its employees proper wages for painting the interior of the courthouse last fall, then had filed incorrect payroll records that disguised their crime, the DA said.

The Nassau County Office of General Services had hired the company for the job, which ran from September to October, the DA said. The DA’s office discovered the crime when the DA’s Labor Unit interviewed some of the painters working on the job, the DA said. One of the painters told investigators from the unit he was being paid $596 per week, the DA said.

The prevailing wage for a painter working seven hours is $450 per day, the DA said.

The investigators also found that LaGuardia Construction Inc. had submitted false payroll records to cover up that it was underpaying its workers, the DA said.

“The fact that this company thought they could cheat their own employees while literally working under the nose of the DA’s office shows a complete disregard for the law,” Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. “Labor regulations are in place to protect workers, and my office’s Labor Unit is committed to ensuring that each worker gets every penny that they have coming to them.”

In addition to a $1,000 fine, LaGuardia Construction Inc. had to pay eight employees a total of $4,706 in back wages, the DA said. LaGuardia and another company related to them, Sunnyside painting company SNEEM Construction Inc., ´╗┐at 43-22 42nd St., were also forbidden from working on public construction products for five years, the DA said.

The Labor Unit is a relatively new group created by the DA’s office in 2006 that investigates cases involving prevailing wage fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, payroll tax fraud, child labor violations, failure to pay wages and failure to pay overtime, the DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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