Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced this week that his office brought charges against a construction company owner for stealing from employees.
According to a press release put out on Thursday, George Cole and his rigging company, Cole NYC LLC, were indicted for stealing approximately $169,500 worth of wages from employees between February 2022 and April 2023.
What's more, Cole is also accused of exposing workers to liability by allowing his New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) policy lapse.
The district attorney contends that Cole submitted forged documents to both city and state agencies in an effort to conceal this fact.
A licensed master rigger allegedly stole $170k in wages from his workers over nearly 18 months as they performed dangerous rigging work – all while uninsured. Learn more in @Law360: https://t.co/YLVwsdbQCY
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) October 19, 2023
Cole has been charged with scheming to defraud in the first degree, failing to secure compensation under New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, and forgery in the second degree.
He was the subject of a joint investigation by Bragg's office in conjunction with the New York State Department of Labor, the New York City Department of Investigation, the Inspector General’s Office of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and the New York State Insurance Fund.
"These workers performed extremely dangerous rigging work from the top of landmark skyscrapers, a job that requires both extreme skill and nerves of steel," Bragg was quoted as saying in a statement.
"Yet, for nearly 18 months, we allege George Cole operated a lucrative company without insurance for his employees – all while stealing their wages," the district attorney continued.
"This indictment demonstrates the importance of collaboration among the members of our Construction Fraud Task Force to keeping New York’s workers safe, and I thank each of our partners for their work on this investigation," he concluded.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon condemned Cole's alleged actions in a statement of her own.
"Stealing wages from workers is intolerable, but this case is especially egregious as the employer forced workers to perform dangerous tasks without insurance," she declared.
"Our message to unscrupulous employers is simple: If you choose to skirt the law and steal from workers, we will seek justice," Reardon stressed.
The commissioner went on to "thank District Attorney Bragg and our other Construction Fraud Task Force partners for helping to protect hardworking New Yorkers."