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News » US » Washington contractor sentenced for wage theft » published 31 Jul 2018

Washington contractor sentenced for wage theft

Washington State’s attorney general has stressed his intention to continue prosecuting anyone who steals from their workers, following the sentencing of a contractor for criminal wage theft.

Maple Valley contractor Alejandro Sandoval and his company must pay back US$25,000 in workers’ unpaid wages in addition to unreported workers’ compensation insurance. The sentencing came after a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Attorney general Bob Ferguson said: “Wage theft is a crime, and as long as I’m Attorney General, those that steal from their workers will be prosecuted. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of my office and L&I, these workers will be paid for their work.”

Alejandro Sandoval and his company, Sandoval Construction, were sentenced in King County Superior Court after pleading guilty to false reporting and first-degree theft. As part of the plea deal, Sandoval Construction is ordered to reimburse the workers for their unpaid wages and Sandoval will be responsible for unpaid workers’ compensation insurance payments to the state.

Under separate civil proceedings, he owes L&I at least US$197,000 in unpaid premiums, interest and penalties.

“People work hard and deserve to be paid fully and on time,” said L&I director Joel Sacks. “Teaming up with the Attorney General gives us the extra hammer of criminal prosecution to collect wages for workers and reduce workers’ comp costs for employers.”

L&I enforces workplace rights and administers the state workers’ compensation insurance system that helps injured workers heal and return to work. When employers fail to pay their fair share, those who follow the rules pay higher premiums, stressed L&I.

The Attorney General’s Office began its criminal investigation in 2016 after L&I received complaints from a dozen workers for Sandoval and his company, alleging Sandoval Construction had not paid them US$25,620 in wages that they were owed.

In addition, an L&I audit revealed that Sandoval had underreported his workers’ compensation payments to the state agency, despite deducting them from employee pay-checks. The audit, which covered a sampling of four different quarters, found he owed more than twice what he reported to L&I in that timeframe.

Sandoval pleaded guilty to one count of Employer’s False Reporting or Failure to Secure Payment of Compensation in King County Superior Court in June. He has now been sentenced to 30 days of electronic home monitoring and must pay $200 in fines, penalties, costs and fees.

As part of a separate plea deal filed earlier this month, Sandoval’s company pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, and must pay back in full the wages it owes to the 12 employees. Sandoval agreed to a payment plan and began paying back the wages in 2017.

Since he became attorney general, Ferguson has prosecuted criminal wage theft cases covering tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. He also successfully proposed bipartisan legislation in 2017 prohibiting businesses that have willfully violated state wage theft laws from being awarded government contracts. Governor Jay Inslee signed Ferguson’s legislation into law in May of 2017.

 

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This article was published on 31 Jul 2018 (last updated on 31 Jul 2018).

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