Howard Beach firm underpaid workers, lied to city – QNS.com

Howard Beach firm underpaid workers, lied to city

By Daniel Massey

The president of a Howard Beach waste management company underpaid employees working on a city contract by $180,000 and then filed false payroll documents to cover up his improprieties, city authorities said last Thursday.

Thomas DeMartino, 33, president of D&D Mason Contractors, Inc., a Howard Beach construction and waste haulage company, pleaded guilty to charges he falsified payroll documents for contracts with the Department of Parks and Recreation, officials from the Trade Waste Commission and the Department of Investigation said.

According to investigators, DeMartino filed payroll documents stating D&D had paid its laborers the prevailing wage rates required by city contracts when, in fact, the company paid its workers less than the accepted wage rates for their trade.

“Firms working on city contracts are required by law to pay their employees a fair and prevailing wage,” said DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. “This case sends an unmistakable message to all potential contractors that the city will not tolerate wage fraud or any other cheating on public contracts.”

DeMartino, of 158-11 96th St. in Howard Beach, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of offering a false instrument for filing, the Trade Waste Commission and DOI said. D&D, whose offices also are at 158-11 96th St., pleaded guilty to the felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and fifth degree conspiracy, they said.

In connection with the guilty plea, D&D agreed to compensate workers $180,000 in back wages and to pay a $20,000 civil penalty. D&D also agreed to a ban from bidding on city contracts until May 2006. DeMartino will not face jail time, investigators said.

Trade Waste Commission Assistant Commissioner Thomas McCormack, who supervised the investigation, said prevailing wage laws are endemic to every city contract and are intended to prevent contractors who employ non-union labor from having an unfair advantage against those who pay union wages.

The joint TWC-DOI investigation found that from Oct. 1, 1996 through May 22, 2000 D&D filed certified payrolls, all signed by DeMartino, with the Department of Parks and Recreation attesting that the company had paid its employees the prevailing wage when the laborers were earning less than they were entitled to for work on park reconstructions throughout the city.

In addition to the fine and back wages D&D must now pay, Trade Waste Commission Chairman Raymond Casey said his office would take steps to reject the license application of the company.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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