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Suffolk DA: Company Pleads Guilty to Underpaying Workers, Submitting False Payrolls for East Hampton Town Project

Written by Long Island  |  26. January 2021

William G. Prophy, LLC, d/b/a WGP Contracting, Inc., pleaded guilty yesterday to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony.

“The consequences of these unscrupulous business practices are two-fold: on the one hand, you have employees not being paid their fair share for the work they are doing, which is not only illegal but immoral,” District Attorney Sini said. “On the other hand, you have bad actors winning contracts over upstanding companies by cutting corners at the expense of their workers and under-bidding the competition. My Office has made the investigation and prosecution of labor-related crimes a priority so that we can protect both the individual workers and the responsible business owners who make up the outstanding labor force in our region. I thank the New York State Department of Labor for their continued partnership in investigating labor-related offenses and making sure workers are paid what they deserve.”

“Protecting the hardworking men and women of New York is a priority of the Department of Labor and by cracking down on those who steal from these hardworking New Yorkers we send a clear message that wage theft will not be tolerated in this state,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “The DOL is proud to work with the Suffolk County DA’s Office and all our law enforcement partners to put an end to this type of worker exploitation.”

On Nov. 16, 2017, WGP Contracting, Inc., was awarded the bid for the East Hampton Town Hall Cedar Shake Shingle Roof Replacement public works project. During the course of the project, the company paid several employees as laborers instead of roofers, which must be paid at a higher rate in accordance with New York State’s prevailing wage schedule. The company submitted certified payrolls to the Town of East Hampton that contained the misclassifications and falsely asserted that the workers had been paid properly.

The investigation also revealed evidence that the company had similarly misclassified several workers, some of whom were assigned to the East Hampton project as well, as lower wage rate laborers in connection with a public works project to renovate toll booths at Jones Beach State Park.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, which was reached in conjunction with the New York State Department of Labor in disposition of underpayments on both projects, the company has forfeited $32,553.81 to the District Attorney’s Office to be distributed to the defrauded workers and was required to pay a fine of $2,500. The company will also be required to remit an additional $10,110.82 in restitution to the New York State Department of Labor for further disbursement to the workers. The company’s owner, William G. Proefriedt, also signed a stipulation of wrongdoing with the New York State Department of Labor admitting to willfully failing to pay the prevailing wage and barring Proefriedt and the company from bidding on public works projects for five years.

“I urge anyone who believes he or she is a victim of wage theft or any other labor-related crime to contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau by calling 631-853-4232 or by emailing InfoDA@suffolkcounty.gov,” District Attorney Sini said.

Proefriedt, 58, of Bay Shore, was also arrested in 2018 and charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree in connection with his bid on the 2018 Pyrrhus Concer House restoration public works project in Southampton Village. Proefriedt submitted a signed letter to the Southampton Village attorney stating that employees of his company, William G. Prophy, LLC, would perform all plumbing, electrical and HVAC work on the project and that they were licensed to do so, when in fact they were not. That matter has been dismissed in satisfaction of today’s plea and the stipulation of wrongdoing with the Department of Labor.

William G. Prophy, LLC, was represented by Raymond Perini.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Shaun McCready, of the Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau’s Labor Crime Unit.

 

 
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