Forest Hills company, CEO plead guilty in wage theft scam during pandemic: DA

Forest Hills
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that a Forest Hills cleaning company and its CEO pleaded guilty in a wage theft case that exploited workers at the height of the pandemic. (File/Paul Frangipane)

A Forest Hills house cleaning company and its chief executive officer pleaded guilty to charges stemming from stealing wages from employees, many of them during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday, March 2.

MPStar Pros CEO Christian Perez, 37, of Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Jerry Iannece and was sentenced to a conditional discharge. His house cleaning company, MPStar Pros, pleaded guilty to a felony scheme to defraud and, as part of the plea, must make full restitution to the workers, paying them more than $54,000 in unpaid wages.

According to the charges, MPStar Pros advertised via Facebook, Craigslist, and other social media sites for persons to clean residential apartments for various clients, including short-term apartment rental operators. Many of the victims were asked to work during the first wave of the pandemic, and after the workers completed their jobs, MPStar did not pay them their wages.

“At the height of the pandemic, these workers risked their lives to support their families only to fall victim to this gutless scam,” Katz said. “I created a worker protection bureau to punish this very kind of shameless exploitation. An honest day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay and that is what we made sure will be the case for these workers.”

Katz thanked her Detective Bureau, the New York State Police and the state Department of Labor for their work during the investigation.

“Any employer who steals from their workers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in New York State,” NYS Labor Commissioner Robert Reardon said. “I thank Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz and her office for partnering with the Department of Labor in our continuing fight against wage theft and for ensuring justice for the victims.”

Additionally, MPStar Pros is required to pay $10,000 that will be held in escrow by the Queens District Attorney’s office in the event additional victims of the scheme are identified.