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Nassau comptroller: Vendor underpaid employees by $17,000

Nassau County comptroller George Maragos speaks to the

Nassau County comptroller George Maragos speaks to the Nassau County Legislature prior to passing the county budget on Oct. 31, 2016, in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Nassau vendor hired to monitor debris removal after superstorm Sandy underpaid its employees by more than $17,000 — a violation of the county’s Living Wage Law, according to a new audit by County Comptroller George Maragos.

The report found that from March 2014 to May 2015, Gibbons, Esposito and Boyce, P.C. paid all eight of its field monitors $13 per hour, while the Living Wage Law required at least $15.21 per hour. In total, auditors found that GEB owes its employees $14,661 in back wages and $2,424 in paid time off that was not provided.

In response to the audit, GEB attorney James O’Brien wrote that while the firm believes the Living Wage Law does not apply to the company because they are a professional engieering firm, it would, “without admitting any liability,” pay the combined $17,085 in back pay.

“Although we are pleased to hear that GEB has agreed to pay back wages, we are less than satisfied with the level of professionalism exhibited by the company and the qualifications of the staff employed,” Maragos said.

GEB, of Uniondale, was hired by Nassau in August 2013 under a $385,478 contract to monitor the county’s recovery efforts following the 2012 storm, including the removal and disposal of submerged and shoreline water debris on Nassau’s South Shore.

In 2015, investigators with the State Attorney General’s Office raided an affiliate of the company, GEB Hi-Rise Engineering P.C., as part of a probe into the alleged falsification of Sandy damage reports.

Earlier this year, Matthew Pappalardo, a former Hi-Rise project manager, pleaded guilty to altering an engineering report. Pappalardo was sentenced to three years’ probation and a $10,000 fine. Hi-Rise pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation and agreed to be permanently banned from receiving Federal Emergency Management Association contracts.

GEB remains a county contractor and is working on other projects.

Maragos said he would submit the recent audit findings to the county attorney’s office and request that Nassau cease all work with the company, citing breach of contract.

County Attorney Carnell Foskey said he “is reviewing the report.”

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