Two grocery stores, which owed their workers almost half a million dollars in back wages, pleaded guilty and have made restitution, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
S&L Vegetables Corp. of Floral Park, Queens, and J&B Vegetables Inc. of Hicksville also owed the state Department of Labor $162,445 for withholding unemployment insurance contributions, the prosecutors’ statement said.
“The defendants in this case acted out of greed, cheating over 150 hardworking employees out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages they earned,” said state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
The stores, which did business as Apna Bazar Cash & Carry, pleaded guilty to grand larceny, falsifying business records, failure to pay wages, and willful failure to pay contributions, he said.
The defendants have fully repaid the sums they owed, Schneiderman said, including $447,832 for back wages.
Department investigators, who turned their findings over to the attorney general, found that Apna Bazar “repeatedly” failed to pay its workers the correct minimum wage — and overtime between 2012 to 2015, prosecutors said.
“Many of these employees worked over 60 hours per week but were paid a fixed daily amount, which often resulted in paychecks that were well below the state minimum wage for even a typical 40-hour workweek,” they said.
And employees also were not paid time-and-one-half for working more than 40 hours in a week, prosecutors said.
Nor did the firm correctly report how many workers were employed at both locations to the Department of Labor, they said.
It submitted falsified state reports for Quarterly Combined Withholding, Wage Reporting, and Unemployment Insurance Return forms, prosecutors said.
A state Supreme Court justice in Queens sentenced the two markets to a three-year conditional discharge, and they must be monitored for one year, prosecutors said.
State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said in a statement: “The Department of Labor takes the responsibility of investigating these crimes very seriously and will continue to refer these cases to law enforcement offices around the state.”