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MnDot Contractor Convicted of Theft-by-Swindle for Cheating Workers

Facing decades in prison and/or $100K in fines for failing to pay prevailing wages to 22 workers from 2010 to 2013.

March 10, 2016

Image: Twin Cities Business

 

 

Laura Lee Plzak, co-owner of Honda Electric in Loretta, Minnesota,  has been convicted in Hennepin County District Court of 13 counts of 'theft by swindle' for cheating nearly two dozen employees out of a total of $241,920.69 in wages from 2010 to 2013.

Despite winning the project bid by promising to pay Honda Electric works the prevailing wage required by Minnesota law, Ms Plzak instead cheated workers out of as much as 70 percent of the money due them. In one case the worker was paid $17 per hour, when he was legally entitled to $58.50 per hour. Another worker was paid $10 per hour but should have been paid $42 per hour. When she questioned Ms Plzak about the discrepancy, Plzak confirmed she was paying $12 and said, "Don't you think that's fair?"

According to the criminal complaint, Ms Plzak and her husband Jeff operated their electrical contracting company out of their home where she handled the bookkeeping while he worked in the field. When the FBI asked Plzak for her employee timesheets, Plzak sent falsified copies of the timesheets.

"A few employers still want to cheat their workers out of the wages to which they are entitled,” county attorney Mike Freeman said while announcing the charges. “In this case, electricians who have to work under difficult weather and safety conditions were short-changed while trying to keep our roads safe.”

Freeman said Monday that Plzak was “driven by greed, pure and simple, and it was the hardworking electricians who suffered.”

Freeman praised the bench verdict issued by Judge Tamara Garcia, calling it “a good decision, based on the enormous amount of evidence gathered by the FBI and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.”

Garcia wrote in her verdict that Plzak submitted bids for government work promising to pay the higher prevailing wage “without any intention of fulfilling those promises.” Further, the judge continued, Plzak admitted falsifying government forms to make it appear that her workers were receiving the prevailing wage.

Ms Plzak's sentencing date is May 13. Mr Plzak is already doing time for his part in the scheme.

Source: TwinCities Business; State of Minnesota

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