New Rochelle contractor accused of paying day laborers with hot checks
A Westchester business owner is accused of preying on undocumented day laborers who say they were never paid for their hard work.
Three alleged victims spoke at a rally Wednesday outside the Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester. They are among six workers accusing Artemio Fuerte with Fuerte Construction LLC of paying them for construction work with checks that bounced.
News 12 went to a listed address for Fuerte Construction in New Rochelle, but no one answered the door.
The Westchester District Attorney's Office tells News 12 that it launched an investigation into Fuerte after a referral from Don Bosco Workers and Catholic Charities in Yonkers.
The investigation led to two arrests last year for failing to pay wages, with two pending cases in New Rochelle City Court for allegedly failing to pay six workers more than $23,000.
Back in 2018, Westchester County legislators passed an anti-wage-theft law.
"It puts a spotlight on wage theft as one of the things the county will look at when they are licensing contractors," said Westchester Legislator Nancy Barr, who attended the rally.
Advocates want more done and are calling for the passage of the SWEAT bill. It's a piece of state legislation that stands for Securing Wages Earned Against Theft.
The bill would close loopholes that allow business owners to avoid paying workers who sue.
"By the time you actually get your judgment, the boss has sold the company to his cousin and declared bankruptcy and you can’t touch those assets," said Jyhie Song, of National Mobilization against Sweatshops Workers Center.
Fuerte is due back in New Rochelle City Court on April 19.