Warwick couple charged in defrauding scheme

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:33

    Schenley Construction company owners face 15 years in prison New city — A Warwick couple with a construction business located in Hewitt, N.J., was charged Monday by the Rockland County District Attorney's office with defrauding employees out of more than $190,000 in unpaid wages and benefits. Rockland District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe and New York State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner announced the arrests of Kenneth Deaver, 54, and Diane Deaver, 49, Warwick, for the alleged defrauding scheme. They are each charged with: One count of second-degree grand larceny, a felony. Ten counts of third-degree grand larceny, a felony. One count of willful failure to pay prevailing wage, a felony. Six counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony. Thirty-one counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a felony. Four counts of petit larceny, a misdemeanor. The Deavers, who conducted their business under the company name of Schenley Construction, Inc., are alleged to have failed to pay the legally required prevailing wages for at least 21 construction workers who worked on three different municipal sewer jobs in Rockland County. According to the Schenley Construction Web site, Kenneth Deaver started the company in 1978, specializing in residential construction, excavating, septic installation and railroad walls. In 1982 he expanded into preparing land for developers, road construction and underground work, including water mains, storm sewers and sanitary sewer installation. The company has over 12 employees and is located on Warwick Turnpike in Hewitt. Complaints received about wages The Special Investigations Unit of the Rockland County District Attorney and the State Labor Department began investigating the defendants after receiving several complaints that the firm was not paying its employees the required prevailing wage. Kenneth and Diane Deaver had entered into three separate contracts with different municipalities in Rockland County between 2008 and 2010. As provided by the New York State Labor Law, and under the terms of the contracts, the defendants were required to pay all of the employees engaged in work at the construction sites the prevailing wage, depending upon what type of job they were performing. They were also required to provide the workers with benefits, such as health insurance, or pay the cash equivalent of the benefits. According to the charges, the Town of Clarkstown, the Village of Hillburn and the Village of Sloatsburg paid the Deavers for the work completed falsely believing they were paying the correct prevailing wage to their workers. Instead, the defendants regularly stole money from the municipalities that was due to the workers, and pocketed a portion of it in violation of the law. To cover up the theft of their employees’ wages, the Deavers allegedly falsified payroll information submitted to the town and villages. Certified payrolls submitted by the defendants failed to list which employees were actually working at the job sites. The certified payrolls also contained false information on dates and hours worked by the victims. “These defendants are accused of unjustly enriching themselves at the expense of their own workers," said Zugibe. "Contractors doing business in Rockland County are legally required to pay their employees fair and prevailing wages. This office is firmly committed to enforcing the prevailing wage laws of New York and ensuring that the rights of workers are protected.” Facing 15 years in prison Kenneth and Diane Deaver were arrested on Friday, Dec. 2, on a sealed indictment handed up by a Rockland County Grand Jury. They were arraigned Monday in Rockland County Supreme Court by the Judge William A. Kelly. Bail was set at $75,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond. The defendants are due to return to court on Jan. 18, 2012. They face up to 15 years in state prison. Senior Assistant District Attorney Kristen Conklin will prosecute the case.