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Job agency denies scam.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - The owner of a temporary employment agency pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of bilking the state, hundreds of workers and an insurance company out of more than $1 million.

Tam C. Vuong, 34, of 143 Massasoit Road, the president of Labor Solutions Inc., was indicted last week on 66 counts of violating the state's wage and hour laws and committing insurance and tax fraud. Labor Solutions was charged with six counts of willful failure to provide a pay stub.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said an investigation that began last year revealed many of those hired through Labor Solutions did not receive the minimum wage or mandatory overtime rates for a two-year period beginning in September 2007. The probe was launched as a result of complaints lodged with the Governor's Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification, according to the attorney general.

Investigators also learned that many workers, who were paid in cash, were illegally charged $2 to $3 a day for transportation, thereby reducing their pay below the minimum wage, Ms. Coakley said.

Labor Solutions provided temporary labor to light manufacturing plants throughout Worcester County. From 2004 to 2008, Labor Solutions collected more than $20 million from client companies and paid out about $11 million in wages, authorities said.

The company allegedly failed to disclose its payroll to its workers' compensation carrier or to the state Department of Revenue. Investigators estimated the state's unemployment fund lost more than $650,000 and the insurance carrier, Travelers Insurance Co., lost more than $500,000 in unpaid premiums.

Prosecutors further allege that Labor Solutions failed to file corporate tax returns for the years 2002 to 2007.

Accompanied by defense lawyer Brian J. Buckley, Mr. Vuong pleaded not guilty yesterday in Worcester Superior Court to 14 counts of willful failure to pay minimum wage, six counts of willful failure to pay overtime, two counts of willfully charging a transportation fee that reduced an employee's daily wages below the minimum wage level, 14 counts of willful failure to provide a pay stub, five counts of willful failure to furnish employment records to the attorney general, five counts of workers' compensation insurance fraud, five counts of unemployment insurance fraud, five counts of failure to make unemployment insurance contributions, larceny by false pretenses, five counts of willful failure to file a tax return and two counts of willfully aiding or assisting in the presentation of fraudulent tax documents.

Judge James R. Lemire released Mr. Vuong on personal recognizance and continued his case to Oct. 22. The court entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Labor Solutions on the charges brought against the corporation.
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Title Annotation:MONEY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 2, 2009
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