Construction firm steals millions from its employees
4 May, 2021
A Pennsylvania construction company that has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts over the years has been accused of stealing more than $20 million in wages from its employees. While charges date back to 2015, the state alleges that the company may have been stealing from its employees for over three decades. According to the state attorney general Josh Shapiro, by keeping this money, the company – which has worked on several PennDOT road and highway construction projects – could underbid other contractors, giving it an unfair advantage in getting work. This also constitutes a misuse of taxpayers’ money.
The company is accused of violating laws designed to ensure that all contractors who receive state or federal funding pay the same wage rates as determined by the state or federal agencies. While the contractor can pay a portion of these wages though providing benefits, this contractor, said state prosecutor, improperly calculated the rate. Shapiro has accused the company of stealing from its workers’ retirement and health benefits by, for one example, taking money designated for the employees’ retirement accounts and instead depositing it into accounts for the owners and executives, or using it for bonuses. Some workers accounts were tens of thousands of dollars under what they should have been.
The company was charged with four felony counts of theft due to these accusations of failure to make the required disposition of funds. It is currently suspended from bidding on any upcoming PennDOT work but is allowed to continue any jobs already in progress. Shapiro said the first order of business is to provide restitution for the workers.
Shapiro called this the largest case of this nature on a national scale. These charges are the result of a three-year investigation that began when an employee nearing retirement discovered some discrepancies in his account and reported it to the state. After a search of its corporate HQ in 2018, the company changed its practices. It has agreed to cooperate with authorities going forward.