Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Obstructing a Federal Investigation and Willful Failure to Pay Employees Overtime
Acting United States Attorney Corey Amundson announced today the convictions of a local business owner for obstructing a federal investigation and failing to pay his workers overtime wages.
This morning, MICHAEL L. LANGSTON, JR., age 47, of St. Amant, Louisiana, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick to obstructing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, and willful failure to pay employees overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). These convictions arose from LANGSTON’S ownership and operation of Langston Construction, LLC (“LC”) and Composite Architectural Design Systems (“CADS”), companies headquartered in Gonzales, Louisiana. Through LC and CADS, LANGSTON employed dozens of workers at construction sites around the country. By failing to pay time and a half for overtime, the defendant withheld approximately $240,388.21 from his employees between August 2013 and August 2016.
During the guilty plea hearing, LANGSTON admitted to a factual summary which detailed his crimes. According to that summary, in January of 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (“DOL WHD”), opened a civil investigation to determine whether the defendant was paying his employees proper overtime and minimum pay in compliance with the FLSA. As part of that investigation, DOL WHD investigators requested complete payroll and wage records and met with the defendant. In order to corruptly impede and obstruct that DOL investigation, LANGSTON instructed one of his employees to provide DOL WHD investigators with only partial wage and hour records which, at his direction, had been altered to hide the true number, identities, and wages of employees working for LC. The defendant subsequently provided these false and fraudulent document to DOL investigators during a meeting. Following this meeting, and for the purpose of impeding and corruptly obstructing the same DOL investigation, LANGSTON hid and removed additional LC and CADS records which reflected accurate employee wage and hour information.
LANGSTON also admitted at the hearing that, at least from August of 2013 through August of 2016, at his direction, LC and CADS failed to pay approximately 150 individuals overtime, willfully withholding approximately $240,388 in time-and-a-half wages, in violation of the FLSA. LANGSTON admitted that his actions were done, in part, because he was concerned about the immigration status of many of his employees.
Acting U.S. Attorney Amundson stated, “The aggressive prosecution of those who obstruct federal investigations and companies that evade fair labor practices is a priority of this office. I greatly appreciate the outstanding efforts of our excellent Department of Labor partners in addressing this important case.”
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter J. Smyczek.