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PREATE 'GETS TOUGH' ON WAGE CHEATS

 PREATE 'GETS TOUGH' ON WAGE CHEATS
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In what he called the start


of a new "get-tough" policy on businesses that attempt to violate the state Prevailing Wage Act, Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr. today announced the iling of theft charges against a Delaware County electrical contracting firm.
 The charges were filed by Preate's Criminal Investigation and Prosecution Section against Jay Weintraub, 44, president of JAE Electrical Service, Inc., of Aston, Pa.
 "Cases like this one are particularly offensive because they are occurring in a time of economic stress for Pennsylvania's working men and women," said Preate. "I intend to work closely with the Department of Labor and Industry to see that working people are not victimized by attempts to cheat them out of their earnings or benefits."
 The criminal complaint filed against Weintraub alleges that his company falsely reported making $27,083 in payroll deductions for medical benefits on behalf of 16 employees while they worked on a renovation and addition project at Millersville State University in Lancaster County in 1991 and 1992.
 "These criminal acts could have had disastrous consequences for the employees of this company, especially in view of the ever-increasing cost of medical care," said Preate. "We allege that Weintraub misled his employees into believing that they were receiving the health insurance coverage they paid for, when, in fact, the deductions for these benefits were being siphoned off for other uses."
 According to the complaint, the alleged crimes occurred after the six-month probationary period during which JAE employees were not entitled to medical insurance coverage. When that coverage was to begin, the complaint states, Weintraub began to make payroll deductions and reported to the Department of Labor and Industry that the payments had been made, but he did not pay the money to the insurance carrier.
 According to Deputy Attorney General Lois H. Lichtenwalner, who is prosecuting the case, the investigation began when JAE employees submitted medical insurance claims which were refused. She said the matter was referred to the Office of Attorney General by the Department of Labor and Industry.
 "We began discussions with Labor and Industry six months age regarding improved enforcement and received this referral two and a half months ago," Preate explained.
 "In addition, we currently have three other cases under investigation and expect to receive additional referrals on an ongoing basis in the future.
 "The message to contractors is simple: If you try to cheat your workers out of the wages and benefits they're legally entitled to, you will not just be subjected to administrative action by Labor and Industry, you will be arrested."
 Weintraub is charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and unsworn falsification. The theft charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The maximum penalty for unsworn falsification is two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
 The charges were filed with District Justice Stella V. Caldwell of Millersville, who is scheduled to arraign Weintraub later today.
 /delval/
 -0- 8/4/92
 /CONTACT: Mike Moyle of the Office of Attorney General, 717-787-5211, or at home, 717-737-9439/ CO: Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MJ-CC -- PH028 -- 6764 08/04/92 15:18 EDT
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Date:Aug 4, 1992
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