CAMDEN – An Ocean County contractor has been handed a prison sentence for skimping workers out of their pay, and not paying some entirely, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Albert Chwedczuk, 45, of Toms River was sentenced to three years in New Jersey State Prison for not paying prevailing wages on a government contract worth $75,000. As part of his unlawful activity, it was determined that Chwedczuk manipulated and falsified payroll documents to cover up the fact that he only paid workers a fraction of what they should receive under the Prevailing Wage Act, and not paying some workers entirely.

The Prevailing Wage Act, “establishes a prevailing wage level for workers engaged in public works in order to safeguard the workers efficiency and general well-being, and to protect them as well as their employers from the effects of serious and unfair competition resulting from wage levels that are detrimental to the efficiency and well-being of all concerned,” according to The NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

A state probe revealed that Chwedczuk knowingly failed to pay his employees $155,166 in wages on a prevailing wage public contact in 2015 and 2016. It was also determined that Chwedczuk was prohibited from obtaining or performing work on federal contracts due to his prior violations of the Prevailing Wage Act with his businesses Ren Construction LLC and Real Construction LLC.

Chwedczuk pleaded guilty to second-degree false contract payment claims, requiring him to pay a total of $155,166 in restitution to his workers, “I am committed to using all available tools, including New Jersey’s strong criminal laws, to protect our workers, protect our immigrants, and protect the integrity of our public contacts,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.

Chwedczuk established a new business with a new name, Bella Group LLC, to obtain a public subcontract valued at $400,000 to provide masonry work for the Cooper Camden Student Housing Project.

After receiving the contracts under his new business name, he failed to pay his employees what they were owed and submitted false certified payrolls to the general contractor on a weekly basis.

Additionally, Chwedczuk instructed several employees to provide false information to an NJLWD investigator regarding the wages they were receiving.

“When contractors receive taxpayer dollars for a public project, they promise to pay prevailing wages to employees for all their hard work. But this employer cheated his workers and hoarded public funds for his own enrichment. This case is a message to all employers that we will not tolerate contractors underpaying their workers and lying about it,” AG Grewal said.

Previous reporting from Sergio Bichao was used in this report.

Mark Anthony is a reporter with Townsquare Media:

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