QUEENS CONTRACTOR AND HIS BUSINESS PLEAD GUILTY TO VIOLATING PREVAILING WAGE LABOR LAWS AND STEALING MORE THAN $1.5 MILLION FROM WORKERS
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, joined by the New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, announced today that Jagdeep Deol, 36, and his business Laser Electrical Contracting Inc. have pleaded guilty to a labor law violation on paying a prevailing wage to workers. The business owner pocketed more than $1.5 million that should have gone to employees between 2014 and 2018. The defendant secured City contracts for his company worth millions of dollars. Any company doing business with the City is required to pay its workers union wages or the equivalent, if the employees are not union members.
District Attorney Katz said, “Earlier this year I created the Housing and Worker Protection Bureau to combat this kind of malfeasance. When an employee puts in a day’s work, they deserve to be paid the prevailing wage. In this instance, the defendant paid his employees less than what was required and siphoned the difference into his own pocket. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Queens County. I would like to thank the DOI Commissioner and her team for their hard work investigating this case.”
DOI Commissioner Garnett said, “Earning a prevailing wage is vital for so many construction employees working on public works projects and the fair payment of that wage is protected by law. Today’s guilty pleas underscore the seriousness of these crimes — that willingly cheating hard working employees out of more than a million dollars in salaries and benefits will result in vigorous investigation and prosecution, and ultimately, the full repayment of funds to those who were victimized. DOI thanks the Queens District Attorney’s Office for its partnership in this case and its commitment to making these workers whole.”
According to the charges, the defendant played out a scheme commonly referred to as a prevailing wage scam. Deol’s company won contracts with the New York City School Construction Authority and the New York City Department of Education. With any City agency, company’s doing City projects must pay a prevailing wage to its employees. For approximately four years, however, this defendant swindled 11 employees. He paid them substantially less and took the remainder of the funds for himself.
Deol, of 262nd Street in the Glen Oaks neighborhood of Queens, pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor violation of the prevailing wage New York State labor law before Queens Supreme Court Justice Steven Paynter. On behalf of his company, the defendant pleaded guilty to a felony failure to pay a prevailing wage. As part of the negotiated plea, Deol will be required to make full restitution and will also reimburse the City approximately $160,000 to cover the cost of the investigation. Moments after pleading guilty, Justice Paynter granted the defendant a conditional discharge. However, if Deol does not pay the promised restitution, he could face jail time.
The investigation was conducted by Detective Robert Magrino of the New York City Police Department’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, under the supervision of Sergeant Adam Bruno, Lieutenant Alfred Batelli, and under the overall supervision of Assistant Chief Christopher McCormack, Commanding Officer-Criminal Enterprise Division. The investigation was also conducted by the New York City Department of Investigation’s Office of the Inspector General for the New York City School Construction Authority’s Deputy Counsel Celeste Sharpe, Investigative Accountant Raymond Dowd, Investigator Leonard Rein, Investigative Manager Charles Shevlin, Assistant Inspector General Nicholas Scicutella, under the supervision of Inspector General Felice Sontupe.
DOI would like to thank the New York City School Construction Authority for their cooperation and assistance, especially the Labor Law Compliance Unit, and its Senior Director, Deborah Seidenberg, Investigative Accountant Emilio Serrano and Investigators Agnes Collazo and Adam Gilyard. In addition, DOI thanks the New York City Department of Education, Division of Enterprise Purchasing and Division of School Facilities.
Assistant District Attorneys Samantha Kapelman, of the District Attorney’s Housing and Worker Protection Bureau, and Priya Ravishankar, of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys William Jorgenson, Bureau Chief of the Housing and Worker Protection Bureau, Christina Hanophy, Deputy Bureau Chief, Rebecca Height, the Bureau’s Senior Assistant District Attorney, with the assistance of Senior Assistant District Attorney David Zadnoff, of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Gerard Brave.
**Criminal complaints and indictments are accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.