Astoria contractor sentenced after failing to pay crew: AG

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An Astoria contractor was sentenced to jail time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution pay after admitting he failed to give legal wages to employees working on various construction projects at city schools, the state attorney general said.

Kostas “Gus” Andrikopoulos, owner of Hara Electric Corp., at 24-61 47th St., pleaded guilty to charges of failure to pay wages and offering a false instrument for filing after state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he paid his workers far less than they were due, pocketing the rest. He also certified and filed false payroll reports to keep the extra cash a secret, the attorney general said.

He was sentenced this week to four months behind bars and was required to pay $750,000 in restitution to underpaid workers as part of his plea agreement — $400,000 of which he has already paid.

“Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it on official government paperwork are criminal acts, plain and simple,” Schneiderman said. “My office will take aggressive action against intransigent employers who disregard the law — and we will put criminals behind bars.”

Andrikopoulos was in charge of electrical work on multiple projects funded by the city School Construction Authority at public schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens from June 1, 2005, through Nov. 30, 2008, Schneiderman said. He paid at least 12 of his workers at hourly rates of $13 to $42 per hour, when they were actually due between $76.93 and $112.69 per hour, the attorney general said.

Schneiderman said the company then filed false weekly payroll reports that did not include the names of the underpaid employees, who had been paid in cash, and instead listed the names of others who did not work on those projects.

Andrikopoulos and Hara Electric Corp. were indicted July 26, 2011, on charges of grand larceny, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. The company pleaded guilty to grand larceny in August 2012, while the owner pleaded guilty to separate charges of failure to pay wages and offering a false instrument for filing.

“Stealing from workers and lying to the city is no way to do business in New York City,” said Rose Gil Hearn, commissioner of the city Department of Investigation.

In New York state, the prevailing wage law ensures that government contractors such as Andrikopoulos pay wages that are on par with local norms for any given trade, the attorney general said. The law requires hourly rates for construction work done for public agencies well above the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, along with benefits, as well as higher wages for overtime, weekends or work at night, Schneiderman said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 12:00 am, October 5, 2013
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