Thursday, July 19, 2012

Airport construction manager goes to jail

Friday the 13th was especially unlucky for William Mazzella. 

The construction manager of two 2009 LaGuardia Airport projects was slapped with a four-month jail sentence on July 13 after pleading guilty to paying his workers less than half of the wages required by law.

Mazzella managed the public works projects at the airport for Decora Construction, LLC, a Mahopac masonry subcontractor, which submitted certified payroll reports to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stating that all workers were paid legally required prevailing wages of between $51.54 and $70.54 per hour. However, Mazzella actually paid the workers at rates of between $18 and $25 per hour.

Restitution totaling $800,000 will be made to the underpaid workers.

“Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it in official documents is not a mistake or a paperwork problem — it is criminal behavior,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who announced the sentencing. “When contractors bid on a public project involving taxpayer dollars, they have to play by the rules. These employers did not, and now they have felony criminal convictions.”

Mazzella was indicted March 28 on two counts of grand larceny in the second degree, one count of violation of labor law, one count of falsifying business records in the first degree and one count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

Mazzella has been involved in shady business tactics before. In addition to charges related to the LaGuardia Airport projects, the indictment charges that from on or about Aug. 2, 2008 to on or about May 6, 2010, Mazzella committed larceny by failing to pay the prevailing wages to workers on an Housing Preservation and Development project in the Bronx. On May 29, 2012, Mazzella pleaded guilty to one count of grand larceny and a violation of labor law in that case.

In related charges, Francisco Tavares and his ex-wife, Aurora Perreira, also pleaded guilty to similar charges. Tavares was sentenced on July 11 and Perreira was sentenced earlier this year. Both defendants were sentenced to five years probation. As a condition of probation, they may not work on public construction projects in New York State for five years.