A manager for a Mahopac masonry subcontractor who underpaid employees on government construction contracts he managed at LaGuardia Airport and in the Bronx will spend four months in prison, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced this morning. Restitution totaling $800,000 will be paid to the workers through money withheld by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns LaGuardia Airport, against the contracts.
William Mazzella, who was sentenced by Putnam County Court Judge James Reitz, managed public works projects for Decora Construction LLC of Mahopac. He was indicted March 28 on five felony counts—two counts of second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony; one count of violating a section of labor law, a class E felony; one county of first-degree falsifying business records, a class E felony; and one county of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony.
Decora did work on two public construction projects at LaGuardia Airport in 2009. The indictment also charges that from on or about Aug. 2, 2008 to May 6, 2010, Mazzella committed larceny by failing to pay prevailing wages to workers on a New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development project in the Bronx. He pleaded guilty May 29 to one count of second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony, and one count of violating a section of labor law, a class E felony.
Mazzella paid workers on a project at LaGuardia Airport less than half the wages required by law, according to Schneiderman. In certified payroll reports Decora submitted to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns LaGuardia, the company stated all workers were paid legally required prevailing wages ranging from $51.54 an hour to $70.54 per hour. But the actual rates paid by Mazzella, Decora’s on-site superintendent, were between $18 and $25 per hour.
“Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it in official documents is not a mistake or a paperwork problem – it is criminal behavior. Mr. Mazzella and the owners of this company will now be held accountable for breaking the law and ripping off hardworking New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “When contractors bid on a public project involving taxpayer dollars, they have to play by the rules. These employers did not, and now they have felony criminal convictions.”
The owners of Decora pleaded guilty to one felony count each and were sentenced to five years probation. They are prohibited from working on any public construction projects in the state for five years. Francisco Tavares, an owner, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree grand larceny. He was sentenced by Putnam County Court Judge James Rooney Wednesday. Aurora Perreira, another owner and Tavares’ ex-wife, pleaded guilty to one county of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing on the LaGuardia projects alone. She was sentenced earlier this year, Schneiderman said.
“Companies doing business with municipalities, state agencies and authorities are legally bound to pay their employees the fair and prevailing wage. In this case, the defendants chose to line their pockets and enrich themselves at the expense of their workers,” Robert Van Etten, inspector general for the Port Authority, said in a statement. “This sentencing will serve notice to all contractors that the Port Authority of NY & NJ will not tolerate wage fraud or any other criminal misconduct on public projects.