Protecting Suffolk

Contractor pleads guilty to underpaying workers on East Hampton Town roofing project

The owner of a Bay Shore contracting company has pleaded guilty to charges of underpaying workers and submitting false payrolls for a public works project at East Hampton Town Hall, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini announced Friday.

William G. Prophy LLC, doing business as WGP Contracting Inc., pleaded guilty Thursday to class E felony charges of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing in connection with a 2017 contract to replace cedar shake shingle roofing at Town Hall. The company is owned by William G. Proefriedt, 58, of Bay Shore.

WGP Contracting illegally listed and paid several employees as laborers instead of roofers during the project. New York State’s prevailing wage schedule states roofers must be paid at a higher rate. The certified payrolls the company submitted to East Hampton Town contained those misclassifications and falsely claimed the workers were properly paid, according to Sini’s office.

Under the plea deal, WGP Contracting has forfeited $32,553 to the district attorney’s office to be given to the workers, and must pay a $2,500 fine. The company must also remit an additional $10,110 in restitution to the state Department of Labor for disbursement to the workers.

Proefriedt and the company are also barred from bidding on public works projects for five years after he signed a stipulation of wrongdoing with the Labor Department admitting he willfully failed to pay the prevailing wage.

An investigation also uncovered evidence that the company paid several workers at a lower rate who were working on a public works project to renovate toll booths at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh. Some of those workers had also worked at the East Hampton project, the Suffolk DA’s office said.

East Hampton Town Attorney John C. Jilnicki said Friday that the town did not make full payment to the company, “as they left the jobsite before completing work.” The town is in civil litigation with WGP Contracting.

“We appreciate the hard work of the NYS Department of Labor and Suffolk County District Attorney in holding the contractor accountable,” Jilnicki said in a statement. “The town was aware of the possible underpayment of their employees as the town had held certain funds aside from the payments to WGP at the direction of the NYS Department of Labor.”

Proefriedt was also arrested in 2018 on similar charges connected to his work on another public works project, restoring the historic Pyrrhus Concer House in Southampton Village as part of a $436,000 contract.

In December 2019, the Southampton Town Board voted 5-0 to seek proposals to complete the African American Museum project that Proefiedt’s company had been working on. Town officials said Proefriedt violated the $786,000 contract and they withheld payments, citing defective workmanship, failure to provide properly skilled workers and failure to use approved subcontractors.

Original article and credits can be found here.