A Long Island landscaper has been ordered to pay more than $32,000 in restitution to three former employees and the state Department of Labor after being convicted of ripping off the workers and defrauding the state unemployment system, state officials said Wednesday.
State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the penalties against Richard Orvieto, 55, owner of Double O Landscaping of Stony Brook.
In addition to making restitution of $13,032 to the three former employees and $19,856.65 to the Labor Department, Orvieto must pay a mandatory fine under state labor law and must complete 50 hours of community service, Schneiderman said. Orvieto also will be on probation for 3 years.
State authorities said Orvieto faced up to 4 years in prison for the offense, committed between Aug. 24, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2014.
Orvieto hired workers to perform landscaping services, but failed to pay them overtime at 11/2 times their regular pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, officials said. He also paid the workers in cash and failed to report or pay them unemployment insurance contributions for those wages to the state unemployment insurance system.
Officials also said Orvieto fired the three workers, who then were not paid any wages for their final week of work.
"It doesn't matter if you own a restaurant or a landscaping company -- you must pay your workers the money they are owed and pay them on the books," Schneiderman said in a statement.
State law requires employers to pay wages no later than seven days after the end of the week when the wages are earned. Employers also must pay workers 11/2 times their regular pay for all hours over a 40-hour workweek.
Make the Road New York, a nonprofit with an office in Brentwood that advocates on issues affecting Latinos. referred the case to the state attorney general's office. On Wednesday, the group applauded the case's outcome.
"Wage theft is a crime," Walter Barrientos, the organization's Long Island coordinator, said in a statement. Orvieto's case "is a classic instance of unscrupulous business owners taking advantage of immigrant workers" and his prosecution "sends a strong message to employers" that worker protections will be enforced, he said.
With Víctor Manuel Ramos