Home>Articles>Bergen man pleads guilty to more than $1 million in wage theft

Bergen man pleads guilty to more than $1 million in wage theft

By Nikita Biryukov, April 23 2021 5:27 pm

A construction company payroll manager pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1 million from employees in an effort to skirt prevailing wage rules, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday.

Toni Jovanoski, of UniMak LLC, entered into a non-prosecution agreement with state authorities, agreeing to pay nearly $1.1 million in restitution to seven employees.

Between 2013 and February 2018, the firm took public contracts and failed to pay the employees prevailing wages mandated by law, instead ordering the employees to pay cash kickbacks. Their paychecks came with a note telling how much they were to send to Jovanoski, prosecutors said.

He also failed to pay them for overtime and regular hours.

“Wage theft is an all-too-common crime in the construction industry and bad actors like this must continue to be held accountable on behalf of the victims they target,” said William Sproule, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “Workers deserve a fair pay for their work and we applaud Attorney General Grewal and his team on this successful investigation and providing justice to the workers victimized by UniMak.”

The state will recommend Jovanoski be sentenced to five years’ probation at a sentencing hearing set for June 4. In addition to restituting the employees, Jovanoski must pay $23,913 in back taxes.

The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General-Newark Field Office, and New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation’s Office of Criminal Investigation conducted the probe, which was launched by a referral by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

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