Monroe Contractor Arrested For Failure To Pay Worker Benefits

                               Albany, NY (CompNewsNetwork) - State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner and Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green today announced the arrest of a contractor who failed to pay legally required supplemental health and retirement benefits to 40 workers on two public work projects located in Monroe County. 

Robert Valerino [64], of 26 Sanfilippo Circle, Rochester, NY and President of Western New York Contractors, Inc., was arraigned last night in Penfield Town Court.  Valerino was charged with multiple crimes related to his violations of New York's labor laws, and specifically his failure to pay the statutorily-required supplemental benefits to his workers.  Valerino has been charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree; two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree; and two counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.  Conviction of these crimes could result in a sentence of 15 years' incarceration

The charges announced today are the result of Department of Labor investigations of two public work projects within the Town of Penfield: one at the Penfield Central School District, and the other at the Penfield sewer system.  The total amount of benefits alleged stolen from these two projects is more than $140,000. 

Along with five other Monroe County public work projects that Western New York Contractors, Inc. worked on, Department of Labor investigations found that more than $644,500 in supplemental benefits, including health and retirement benefits, is owed by the defendant to more than 90 workers.  Criminal investigations into the remaining five Monroe County projects are ongoing.

New York State labor laws require that prevailing wages and supplemental benefits are paid on public work projects.  In addition, labor laws state that contractors on public work projects must file certified payrolls with the contracting municipality.  These certified payrolls must provide specific information, including who performed the work and how much the employee was paid in wages and benefits.  The Labor Department found certified payrolls filed by Valerino to be fraudulent.  The investigation revealed that Valerino falsely claimed that the Supplemental Benefit portion of his workers' wages was sent to their respective Joint Union-Employer plans; they were not.  The Department's investigation also revealed that Valerino did not pay the Supplemental Benefit portion of the wage schedule to anyone. 

State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner said, "An agreement to abide by our labor laws was made, an agreement was broken, and as a result a crime was committed.  The victims here are workers who counted on the health and retirement benefits that Mr. Valerino so blatantly withheld.  I commend District Attorney Green for taking such decisive action on behalf of these workers.  New York's labor laws are in place to create a level playing field for law abiding employers and to ensure that contractors compete for public projects on factors important to the taxpayers of this state such as skill, productivity, innovation, and quality while maintaining area standards. Those employers who flagrantly thumb their noses at the law are destined to share the same unfortunate fate as Mr. Valerino."  

Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green said, "The prevailing wage laws are meant to protect workers, taxpayers, and the integrity of public works projects including the bid process and legitimate contractors.  Any and all violations of laws involving public works projects in Monroe County will be fully prosecuted by my office."

Monroe County Assistant District Attorney William Gargan is prosecuting the criminal case. Investigator Ralph Gleason from the New York State Department of Labor, Bureau of Public Work Rochester Office, investigated this matter.  Also assisting in this investigation were the New York State Police. 

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