New York contractor fined $2.5m for “shamefully stealing money from own employees”

A Brooklyn construction company that paid its workers less than half the rate it was required to has been fined $2.5m and banned from public works contracts for the next five years. 

Michael Riglietti, the founder of the MSR Electrical Construction Company, pleaded guilty yesterday (15 November) to grand larceny and violating New York’s wage requirements, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said: "These defendants got lucrative public works contracts and then shamefully stole money from their own employees. In Brooklyn, we will not allow hard-earned wages to be stolen from hardworking employees. This decision to steal wages turned out to be a very costly theft for these defendants and should serve as notice to others considering cheating employees that they will be prosecuted." 

Thomas DiNapoli, New York State comptroller added: "MSR inflated its contract costs and submitted phony bills in an attempt to defraud the public. Thanks to my office’s investigation and partnership with DA Gonzalez, this fraud was exposed and the taxpayers’ money recovered."

The firm was supposed to pay its workers $54 an hour plus benefits on 15 city projects between December 2012 and December 2015, but instead paid between $13.50 and $25 an hour with no benefits. Altogether the firm stole $700,000 from its workers.

As well as the fine, Riglietti, 50, was sentenced to five years’ probation. Five of MSR’s workers will get more than $700,000 from the fine, and the rest will go to city and state agencies.

MSR carried out work at 13 public schools, five MTA locations and the Creedmoor Psychiatric Centre in Queens.

Image: The larceny took place at public works sites, including the MTA (Creative Commons)

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