Suffolk County officials arrested Richard Orvieto, 55, of Stony Brook on Tuesday and charged him with failing to pay overtime to workers.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Orvieto, the owner and operator of Double “O” Landscaping Inc., committed wage theft while operating his Stony Brook-based business.
From Aug. 24, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2014, Orvieto hired workers and allegedly neglected to pay them overtime, according to a criminal complaint. Toward the end of 2013 Orvieto fired three of these employees and neglected to pay them for their final week at the company, the attorney general said.
The Attorney General’s office said Orvieto was supposed to pay his employees one and one half times their regular pay if they worked more than 40 hours a week. The three unidentified employees who were fired allegedly worked around 20 hours of overtime per week and were not compensated, Schneiderman said.
Orvieto now owes these employees more than $13,000, according to the attorney general.
Orvieto is also charged with defrauding the state unemployment insurance system for paying wages in cash off the books. Schneiderman said he did not report the wages of two of the three former employees and several other workers to the state unemployment insurance fund for this quarterly period.
Double “O” Landscaping’s quarterly return files did not include the names of the fired employees consistently, the complaint said. For the quarterly return files, filed from July 31, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2014, did not include the names of the three fired workers, Schneiderman said.However, Orvieto’s name consistently appeared on these documents.
The landscape business owner “is also liable for unpaid unemployment insurance contributions, fraud penalties and interest to the state unemployment insurance system totaling more than $19,000,” the attorney general said in a press release.
Orvieto was arraigned on June 22 in the 1st District Court in Central Islip. His next court date was set for Aug. 25.
He faces felony charges for falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing both in the first degree. Orvieto also faces two unclassified misdemeanors for failure to pay wages under Labor Law Section 198-a(1) and Willful Failure to Pay Unemployment Insurance Contributions. If convicted, he faces maximum jail sentence of four years.
Orvieto and his company will also “face maximum fines, in addition to restitution, of $20,000 for each count.”
Orvieto’s defense attorney, Paul Kalker of Hauppauge, was unavailable for comment.
Under New York law, employers are required “to pay wages no later than seven days after the end of the week when the wages were earned and to report all wages paid to employees on quarterly tax filings with the state,” according to the attorney general’s office.
Schneiderman was unavailable for further comment but said in the press release that protecting hardworking New York employees is a priority.
“My office will take aggressive action, including criminal charges, where appropriate, against business workers who fail to properly compensate their workers, and who try to avoid other laws by paying workers off the books,” Schneiderman said.