Mahopac masonry firm shorts workers $800K; 3 sentenced

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (Credit: Charles Eckert, 2010)

A Mahopac masonry company has been banned from working on state projects for five years after shortchanging its workers by $800,000 on public works projects, including two LaGuardia Airport contracts.

The two owners of Decora Construction LLC, on Route 6, and one of its managers have pleaded guilty to felony charges in Putnam County Court in relation to the scheme, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Friday.

Owners Francisco Tavares, 53, and his ex-wife Aurora Perreira, 54, of Mahopac, were sentenced to five years probation. William Mazzella, 41, of Yonkers, the on-site manager for the LaGuardia projects, was sentenced to four months in jail.

"Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it in official documents is not a mistake or a paperwork problem -- it is criminal behavior," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Mr. Mazzella and the owners of this company will now be held accountable for breaking the law and ripping off hardworking New Yorkers."

Phone numbers for the company -- as well as Tavares, Perreira, and Mazzella -- were disconnected Friday.

Decora was a subcontractor on two LaGuardia Airport projects in 2009 and submitted payroll reports to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the airport, that the company was paying workers anywhere from $51.54 to $70.54 an hour, the prevailing wages for such work.

But Mazzella and Decora actually were only paying the workers rates between $18 and $25 an hour, Schneiderman said.

Mazzella also underpaid workers on a New York City Housing Preservation Department project in the Bronx from August 2008 to May 2010, according to Schneiderman.

Mazzella pleaded guilty May 29 to second-degree grand larceny and labor law violation, felonies, and was sentenced Wednesday. Tavares was also sentenced Wednesday for his guilty plea to third-degree grand larceny, a felony. Perreira pleaded guilty this year to first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a felony.

All three were ordered to pay restitution of $800,000 to the underpaid workers.

Schneiderman did not say how many workers would be entitled to the payments and how much each would receive.

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