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State AG busts Hillcrest biz that stiffed staff

By Joe Anuta

The owners of a Hillcrest construction company pleaded guilty last week to withholding tens of thousands of dollars in wages from their workers, the state’s top prosecutor said.

Tsai Hsun Chang, 61, and Catherine T. Liu, 68, owners of Onward Construction, confessed to withholding the pay of seven workers to the tune of $18,680, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“The most basic right of an employee is the right to be paid for your work and in New York failing to pay wages is a criminal act,” Schneiderman said. “My office will take strong action, including bringing criminal charges against employers who ignore the labor laws.”

Chang and Liu were charged with a number of offenses, including failing to pay wages, tax fraud and theft, and were ordered by Queens Criminal Court Judge Deborah Stevens Modica to fork over the withheld cash and pay back the workers, the AG said.

The duo were free on conditional release and were also ordered to perform five days of community service.

Neither could be reached at the number for Onward Construction, which is registered with the state Department of State at 134-44 58th Ave.

Chang and Liu neglected to pay seven workers the money over a period over of about six month beginning in March 2011, according to the AG.

The workers performed work on residential homes that included demolition, drywall, painting and carpentry work, the AG said, and each will receive a check worth between $630 to $4,140, depending on the number of hours they defrauded.

The owners of Onward Construction also had to pay $2,000 to the state Unemployment Insurance Division for unpaid unemployment insurance.

State law stipulates that every worker must be paid for all labor performed and must be compensated at least the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour plus 2 1/2 times that for overtime hours.

New York’s laws require that employers pay workers for all work performed. The law requires employers to pay at least the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour plus time-and-a-half for overtime hours.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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