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AG: Central Islip car wash violated wage laws

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Wednesday that he has secured a guilty plea from the owner of a Central Islip car wash who failed to pay at least 10 workers the state-mandated minimum wage and required overtime wages.

"Every New Yorker has a right to be paid the legally required minimum wage and overtime rates . . . ," Schneiderman said in a news release. "This guilty plea means the abuse and flagrant violations of the law by this car wash owner must stop."

As part of his plea, the owner, Don Hyuk Choi of Palisades Park, N.J., will pay $75,000 in restitution for unpaid wages, Schneiderman said. He will also complete 40 hours of community service, and his business will submit to two years of monitoring of its employment practices by Schneiderman's office.

Choi could not be reached Wednesday, and no one answered at the car wash.

Schneiderman's investigation revealed that, from March 2008 to March 2012, Choi paid at least 10 car wash employees hourly rates of as little as $4. Choi and his company also failed to pay overtime wages and buy required workers' compensation insurance for most employees.

The state minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour and the state requires a rate of time and a half for more than 40 hours per week. There is a slightly lower minimum wage for employees who regularly receive tips. That rate depends upon the industry, and for car wash workers it is $5.50 per hour. Requirements for the tipped wage were not met in this case, Schneiderman said.

Choi, 63, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor before State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. His company, D & J Central Inc., 120 West Suffolk Ave., Central Islip, pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor.

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