The Hennepin County Attorney's office today charged a construction subcontractor with theft by swindle.
Gary Francis Bauerly, 64, of Rice faces felony charges. The complaint alleges Bauerly's now-defunct WATAB trucking company systematically defrauded employees, general contractors and taxpayers by failing to pay prevailing wage rates to his employees.
Bauerly allegedly maintained false documents to steal $52,000 in wages from public road construction projects involving the state, four counties and three cities, said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
Prosecutors say up to 50 workers were not properly paid, or were forced to give kickbacks to avoid losing work hours or wages.
"He would bid as a subcontractor and tell his contractors that 'Yes, I'm going to pay prevailing wages,' but he'd use the scheme of double-books, two different checks, kickbacks, all sorts of schemes, clearly knowing exactly what prevailing wage was all about," Freeman said.
This is the first time Hennepin County prosecutors have brought a case of theft by swindle for allegedly violating prevailing wage laws.
"It was pretty invidious, frankly," Freeman said.
Officials are asking Bauerly to turn himself in. If convicted, he would face restitution and up to 20 years in prison. Attempts to reach Bauerly for comment found that his phone number had been disconnected.