TRENTON – A Toms River contractor was sentenced to three years in state prison for falsifying records to cheat workers out of $155,000 by not paying prevailing wages.
Many of the employees Albert Chwedczuk, 45, cheated are believed to be undocumented immigrants according to Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
Chwedczuk was sentenced on Sept. 6 for purposely not paying prevailing wages on a government contract valued over $75,000.
As part of his criminal activity, Chwedczuk falsified payroll records for the public contract to cover up the fact that he paid most of his employees only a fraction of the wages required under the Prevailing Wage Act, while not paying others at all.
It is believed that many of the defendant’s employees were undocumented immigrants and he took advantage of their status.
Grewal said, “when contractors receive taxpayer dollars for a public project, they promise to pay prevailing wages to employees for all their hard work. This employer cheated his workers and hoarded public funds for his own enrichment. This case is a message to all employers that we will not tolerate contractors underpaying their workers and lying about it.”
Chwedczuk was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Mark K. Chase in Camden County. He pleaded guilty on March 27 to an accusation charging him with second-degree false contract payment claims. Chwedczuk must also pay a total of $155,166 in restitution to workers.
Former Deputy Attorney General Christopher J. Keating took the guilty plea and Deputy Attorney General Valerie Butler, who is deputy bureau chief, handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.
“I am committed to using all available tools, including New Jersey’s strong criminal laws, to protect our workers, protect our immigrants, and protect the integrity of our public contracts,” Grewal said.
The case was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJLWD), Division of Wage and Hour Compliance, which initially investigated the violations of the Prevailing Wage Act.
“We are sending a loud and clear message to dishonest contractors that this type of crime does not pay,” Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice said.
Allende said, “we want unscrupulous employers to know that we will work closely with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to investigate contract fraud and prevailing wage violations and hold bad actors accountable.”