The serious tornado that rocked a Missouri town in May 2011 left a path of destruction that caused significant damage to many of the town’s buildings. Now, the Missouri Attorney General and a county prosecuting attorney have brought felony charges claiming that at least one company and project manager attempted to take advantage of the deal they had to demolish three of the town’s schools. The contracts that Urban Metropolitan Development received were subject to Missouri’s prevailing wage law since they were considered public works projects.
The prevailing wage law exists to ensure that qualified workers are paid at least the prevailing hourly wage. That amount is determined before a project can even commence and will depend upon the location of the job and the kind of work being done. Missouri authorities are now claiming that UMD and its project manager did not pay all of their workers prevailing wages as required.
Both the company and the project manager are now facing five counts each for the alleged failure to pay prevailing wages. They are further being charged with 10 felony counts of forgery related to this case. The felony forgery counts stem from the fact that officials believe the company altered copies of paychecks to look like prevailing wages were being paid to workers.
Felony charges of forgery can bring as much as seven years in prison, not to mention extensive monetary fines. Each count of failing to pay prevailing wages can bring up to $500 in fines and/or six months in prison. While these are certainly series charges for the company and project manager to face, all criminal defendants enjoy the right to be considered innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. Prosecutors have a considerable burden of proof to meet in order to gain such criminal convictions.
Source: fourstateshomepage.com, “Felony Forgery Charges Against Company Hired to Demolish Joplin High After Tornado,” Briauna Brown, Dec. 18, 2012