Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction and sentencing of Leonid Fridman for failing to pay legally required wages to his workers on a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey construction project.
Fridman pled guilty to the felony crimes of grand larceny in the second degree and violation of prevailing wage requirements of New York State Labor Law. As a condition of the plea, Fridman agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution to underpaid workers and prohibition from working on public works projects for five years. Fridman was sentenced to five years of probation.
“Mr. Fridman is being held accountable for stealing wages from workers who renovated parts of JFK,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to take strong action, including filing criminal charges, against employers who violate New York’s labor laws, steal taxpayer dollars and violate the public trust.”
Based upon court filings and statements in court, Fridman, 60, owned and operated Millennium Commercial Corp., a Brooklyn-based company that performed tile work.
The defendant and his company, located at 200 Brighton 15th St., performed tile restoration work as a subcontractor on the renovation of the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2009 and 2010. Under the Port Authority contract for the project and the Labor Law, the defendant was required to pay his employees over $50 per hour for Laborers and Mason Tenders and over $70 per hour for Tile Setters. Fridman was aware that he was required to pay the prevailing wages but still paid some of his workers as little as $10 per hour.
To avoid detection, Fridman filed false certified payroll reports stating he paid his workers the prevailing wages, and also issued paychecks to the workers that matched those payroll reports.
Michael Nestor, Inspector General for the Port Authority of NY & NJ, 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 defendant chose to enrich himself at the expense of his own workers. Today’s 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. The Port Authority Office of Inspector General and its Law Enforcement partners will aggressively identify, investigate and bring to justice those who corrupt the integrity of the construction industry.”
Fridman pled guilty to one count each of Grand Larceny, a class “C” felony, and Failing to Pay the Prevailing Wage in violation of Labor Laws, a class “D” felony.
New York’s prevailing wage law seeks to ensure that government contractors pay wages that are comparable to the local norms for a given trade. The law requires an hourly rate for construction work performed for public agencies, along with benefits, and also higher wages for overtime, weekends or work at night.
The Honorable Dorothy Chin-Brandt of Queens Supreme Court sentenced the defendant to five years of probation and to pay $200,000 in restitution for the workers he underpaid.
This case was investigated by Investigator Robert Ward, Investigator Mark Fionda and Forensic Auditor Tiffany Coles of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Office of the Inspector General, under the supervision of Acting Director of Investigations Steven Pasichow and Assistant Director of Investigations Salvatore Dalessandro and Supervisory Police Investigator Jeffrey Schaffler.
New York Office of the Attorney General Supervising Investigator Luis Carter and Deputy Chief Vito Spano also participated in the investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Holt. The Labor Bureau Section Chief is Richard Balletta. The Bureau Chief is Terri Gerstein, and the Bureau is overseen by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.