A payroll manager for a Bergen County construction company pleaded guilty to demanding cash kickbacks from employees and failing to pay them for work to circumvent prevailing wage rules on public works projects, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced April 22.
UniMak LLC of Saddle Brook entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the OAG to pay $1 million to seven employees the company “cheated out of earned wages,” an announcement said.
Payroll manager Toni Jovanosk pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge James Sattely to third-degree false contract payment claims for a government contract (prevailing wage violations) and third-degree misconduct by a corporate official.
Jovanoski could be sentenced to a five-year term of probation under a plea agreement, under which Jovanoski must pay the New Jersey Department of the Treasury $23,913 in back taxes related to the withheld pay; and is also jointly and severally liable with UniMak for payment of full restitution of $1,082,041 to the seven victims.
Jovanoski will be sentenced June 4.
Under a non-prosecution agreement, UniMak and its directors aren’t allowed to enter into contracts with the State of New Jersey or any of its administrative or political subdivisions and must report quarterly for three years to the Division of Criminal Justice about its prevailing wage compliance and oversight of subcontractor compliance.
“We’re committed to using all available tools, including criminal prosecutions, to protect our workers and the integrity of our public contracts,” said Grewal in a prepared statement. “New Jersey’s Prevailing Wage Act is intended to safeguard the interests and well-being of workers on public projects and prevent unfair competition among contractors bidding for such projects. We won’t tolerate corporate officials who cheat their workers and illegally enrich themselves and their businesses with public funds.”
From January 2013 through February 2018, UniMak worked on public works prevailing wage jobs. Jovanoski, as payroll manager, failed to pay seven employees the mandated prevailing wages for hours they worked on such projects by requiring the employees themselves to pay cash kickbacks: The seven employees received paychecks for work they completed that included a note indicating how much each of them was required to kick back to Jovanoski in cash.
If they didn’t pay Jovanoski the amount on the note, they wouldn’t receive subsequent paychecks. Jovanoski also failed to pay them for both overtime and, in many cases, regular work hours throughout the public works projects.