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City Contractor Charged for Underpaying Workers and Bribing Union Rep

By DNAinfo Staff on December 3, 2009 5:00pm

By Gabriela Resto-Montero

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

A city contractor has been indicted for bilking workers renovating a Harlem housing project out of $450,000, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Thursday.

A union representative was also indicted for accepting bribes to keep quiet about the contractor's practice of hiring of non-union workers and paying them less.

The owner of Remy Builders Corporation of Queens, Richard Martinez, 43, was charged with grand larceny after investigators found he'd underpaid 16 non-union workers to complete brick work at Wagner Houses in Harlem.

The non-union laborers were paid $32.79 less per hour than union workers and $33.59 less for overtime, according to the District Attorney's office. 

Martinez then pocketed the total of $450,000 added up over the course of the 10-month project on the property, which is owned by the New York City Housing Authority.

Nathaniel Bethea, a Union steward for Local 79 of the Laborers International Union of North America, was indicted for accepting a $300 bribe from one of the REMY non-union workers to not report the underpayment to authorities.

Bethea's case is currently pending before the state Supreme Court. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Martinez, who Morgenthau alleged also tried to cover his tracks by deleting the names of the non-union workers from his books, faces up to 19 years for grand larceny and false filings.