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Attorney General James Announces Guilty Pleas of Valley Stream Construction Contractors for Failing to Pay Workers

LongIsland.com

Vickram and Gayatri Mangru, Owners Of Vick Construction and AVM Construction Corp., Pleaded Guilty to Failure To Pay Prevailing Wages On Construction Work at Several New York City Public Schools.

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Photo by: succo

New York, NY - February 12, 2019 - Attorney General Letitia James today announced the guilty pleas of Vickram Mangru, his wife Gayatri Mangru, and AVM Construction Corp., of Valley Stream, NY, for failing to pay proper prevailing wages to workers and falsifying business records related to a publicly-funded New York City construction project. The defendants were charged with failing to pay three workers their required prevailing and overtime wages, as well as supplemental benefits from December 2012 through February 2015. The defendants unlawfully falsified payroll records to conceal their crimes, and thereby stole more than $280,000 from three workers. In October 2017, a Bronx County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the defendants with two counts of Failure to Pay Prevailing Wages and Benefits and two counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.   
 
“Intentionally underpaying workers is both highly illegal and immoral,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Not only did the defendants take advantage of innocent workers trying to earn a living, they also took advantage of New York City by falsifying records to the Department of Education. This office will never hesitate to investigate any employer who tries to cheat our workers or our government.” 
 
Today, Defendants Vickram Mangru and AVM Construction Corp. both pleaded guilty in Bronx County Supreme Court before the Honorable Barry E. Warhit, to felony Failure to Pay Prevailing Wages and Benefits counts under the indictment. Defendant Gayatri Mangru pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor Failure to Pay Prevailing Wages and Benefits in the indictment for her involvement in the crimes. As a condition of their pleas, the Defendants will pay restitution to the three workers in the amount of $80,000 before their sentencing. Defendant Vickram Mangru will be sentenced to 30 days of incarceration and will subsequently serve three years probation; Defendants AVM Construction Corp. and Gayatri Mangru will be sentenced to conditional discharges and additional fines. A judgment order of restitution will be entered for the remaining amount owed.   
 
In addition, all defendants will be barred from bidding on or being awarded any public works contract in the State of New York for a period of five (5) years.   
 
“An honest days work deserves an honest days pay and when employers cheat workers from the wages they rightfully earned, regardless of their status,  it’s labor abuse at its worst,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Despite being debarred, this unscrupulous contractor attempted to use his wife’s name to open a company and take advantage of immigrant workers by withholding their prevailing wages yet again — now he is facing the consequences of his actions. I would like to thank the Attorney General for working side by side with my office to prosecute this contractor and bring justice to the workers who are owed their fair share.” 
 
Between December 22, 2012 and April 12, 2014, Vickram Mangru—as owner of Vick Construction—failed to pay several of his employees’ proper prevailing wages for construction and repair work on several public schools in the Bronx. State law requires that on certain construction projects designated as “public works,” workers must be paid a pre-determined industry minimum wage per hour, plus a benefit rate, collectively known as a “prevailing wage rate.” Instead of paying this prevailing wage rate, the investigation revealed that Vickram Mangru allegedly paid his workers between $120 and $160/day for 40-50 hours worked per week – an amount far less than what his employees were owed under the prevailing wage rate. To cover up the crime, Vickram Mangru falsified Certified Payroll Records and Reports submitted to the New York City Department of Education by claiming that he did pay workers the proper prevailing wage rate. The New York City Comptroller’s Office previously barred the defendant, Vickram Mangru, from obtaining contracts for public works projects in New York City after he was found to be in violation of labor laws. The Comptroller’s Office referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office after Mangru created a new company in an attempt to continue operating in New York City, but was allegedly still committing labor violations.  
 
The Attorney General thanks the New York City Comptroller’s Office, specifically Constantine Kokkoris, Chief of the Bureau of Labor and the Comptroller’s Office’s Bureau of Labor Law Supervising Attorney Michael Turilli, Agency Attorney Caroline Friedman, Management Auditor Ilona Stadnicka, as well as the Comptroller’s Office Director of Investigations Francisco Gonzalez and Investigator Dwayne Gibson.  The Attorney General also thanks the New York City Department of Education Division of School Facilities Deputy Director of Procurement Kimberly De Vine as well as Labor Law Investigator David Coles.    
 
The investigation was handled for the Attorney General’s Office by Investigators Frank Tirri and Ray Almodovar, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera and Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator John Reidy. 
 
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Schneider and being supervised by the Labor Bureau’s Criminal Section Chief Richard Balletta, Labor Bureau Chief ReNika Moore, and Chief Stephanie Swenton of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Labor Bureau is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is overseen by Chief Deputy for Criminal Justice José Maldonado.