DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — This punishment just fits the crime.
The owner of a house cleaning company accused of stiffing his workers out of $15,352 in wages will have to scrub down the halls of Bronx Supreme Court Criminal building for free as part of his punishment, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney.
Prosecutors said that Just, who was arrested in August of 2015, often made his cleaners work 24-hour shifts cleaning homes and offices around Brooklyn, then would refuse to pay them or give them bad checks that would later bounce.
The accusations stem from day laborers Just hired between the fall of 2014 into spring of 2015, according to prosecutors.
Just struck a deal with prosecutors on June 23 where he pleaded guilty to scheme to defraud and had to complete 200 hours of community service and pay around workers $15,352 in restitution, prosecutors said. He also had to shut down his company.
If he complies, the District Attorney's office will drop the felony charges against him. If he doesn't, he could still spend up to four years in jail, prosecutors said.
"In Brooklyn, we simply will not allow workers to have their hard-earned wages stolen from them," said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who recently took a league of absence while he's treated for cancer. "With the help of the Workers' Justice Project, my office was able to hold this employer accountable and we will make sure each victimized employee is made whole."
The cleaners were all hired by Just at "La Parada," the corner of Division Avenue and Marcy Avenue, a spot where many women day laborers congregate waiting to get hired, according to Ligia Gullpa, director of the Worker's Justice Project, who helped organize the unpaid cleaners.
The organization recently published a report calling for a job center to help better safeguard the rights of the women at the South Williamsburg corner.
Gullpa broke out into laughter when she heard that Just would now have some cleaning of his own to do.
"It's kind of ironic," Gullpa said. "He'll be on the other side of understanding what it takes to do cleaning. Hopefully that sends him a message of how valuable that work is."
Just's lawyer, Aaron Twersky, said his client that reimbursed all of the employees for unpaid wages and blamed the company's mismanagement on an assistant.
Just will begin his community service at the end of October and should be finished by May, prosecutors said. He's due back in court on Dec. 14, court records show.
Editors Note: An earlier version of this story said that the judge's order to clean the Bronx court house came out following a hearing Wednesday, however Just signed up for community service hours in the last two weeks, prosecutors later clarified. Wednesday's hearing was canceled.