FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 28, 2012
FORMER RALEIGH COUNTY BUSINESSMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO OPERATING ILLEGAL KICKBACK SCHEME
Defendant illegally took more than $400,000 cash from former employees over a 10-year period
BECKLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today announced that a Beckley man pleaded guilty in federal court to requiring illegal kickbacks from former employees. Alfred Williams, 72, a former operator of Beckley-based Williams Mechanical, Inc., admitted that for approximately 10 years, he routinely required at least one-third of his employees to return cash to him from their paychecks as a condition of their continued employment with the company. Williams further admitted that throughout the illegal scheme, he received between $600 and $1000 cash each week from the employees.
At the time of the defendant’s illegal scheme, Williams Mechanical, Inc. performed work as a plumbing sub-contractor for numerous public works projects that were financed with government funds. According to state and federal law, the company was required to compensate employees with prevailing wages and report the wages paid on certified payrolls. The prevailing wage established by the government is an hourly wage, which also includes benefits and overtime compensation for particular work performed. Williams admitted that he was aware of the legal requirements, yet failed to meet those obligations.
The defendant also admitted that he required employees to return cash to him from their paychecks, which hid the fact that he was paying less than the prevailing wage. Also, during the scheme, Williams misreported the hours employees actually worked and paid them based upon improper job classifications.
In 1998, the West Virginia Division of Labor forced Williams to pay 13 employees more than $25,000 for failure to pay prevailing wages to which they were entitled.
Williams faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on October 25, 2012 by United States District Judge Irene C. Berger. At the plea hearing, the defendant also agreed to pay restitution of up to $520,000.
The U.S. Department of Labor conducted the investigation, with assistance from the West Virginia Division of Labor. Assistant United States Attorney Hunter P. Smith is in charge of the prosecution.
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