Foreman at construction site at P.S. 71 in Ridgewood indicted by Queens grand jury for exploiting workers: DA

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A Long Island man was indicted by a Queens grand jury for stealing thousands of dollars from employees in a kickback scam in Ridgewood, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Komal Singh, 52, of South Corona Avenue in Valley Stream, was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Stephen Knopf on Wednesday, May 11, in a grand jury indictment charging him with multiple counts of grand larceny for allegedly taking kickbacks from employees working on a School Construction Authority (SCA) project at P.S. 71 in Ridgewood.

From March 2019 to February 2020, Singh was the foreman at the P.S. 71 job site and had the authority to hire and fire workers, according to the indictment. During this time, he allegedly hired the workers with the understanding that each had to pay him $50 per day for each day worked.

When the victims complained or stopped paying, they were allegedly fired by Singh and informed there was no work for them. As a result, Singh was able to extort thousands of dollars in kickbacks from each complainant under the threat of termination.

The investigation was conducted by the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) and the Inspector General for the SCA.

“Construction foreman Komal Singh used his position to exploit workers reporting to him, squeezing them for thousands of dollars in kickbacks as a condition of getting hired and continuing their work at a School Construction Authority site in Queens, as charged in the indictment,” DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Stauber said. “Extortion and kickbacks are not the way to do business in New York City, and DOI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who abuse their workers.”

Justice Knopf set Singh’s return date for June 1. Singh faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

“The victims worked hard for their money and as alleged, the defendant demanded they kick some of it back to him or face termination,” Katz said. “This kind of exploitation is illegal. The prevalence of such schemes is the reason I created the Housing & Worker Protection Bureau, to make sure that employees are protected from unlawful actions. My office will not relent in our efforts to investigate and prosecute those who seek to take advantage of our workforce.”

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