Drywall contractor charged with underpaying employees

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An Indianapolis drywall contractor faces criminal charges that he underpaid his employees working on a government housing project and then signed off on falsified documents to cover it up, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday.

David Roark, owner of D. Roark Drywall CCD LLC, was taken into custody and faces two counts of forgery, one count of theft, and five misdemeanor counts of common construction wage violation, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Calls to Roark’s listed business phone number met with busy signals Friday. Officials with Columbus, Ohio-based Continental Gypsum, the parent company of Roark Drywall, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beginning in 2010, Roark and his employees subcontracted on the $7 million renovation of the Indianapolis Housing Authority’s Barton Tower apartments downtown.

Because it is a housing authority project, Roark was required to pay his employees Indiana’s common wage for construction workers, which is $28.09 an hour plus $11.82 in fringe benefits.

However, Prosecutor Terry Curry alleges, Roark paid them as little as $10 an hour, but pressured them to report the full amount to project general contractor Shiel Sexton Co. Inc.

John Andrews, a partner at Shiel Sexton, declined to comment Friday, saying only that the firm was cooperating with the criminal investigation.

Court records say Roark employee Michael Clark Jr. first brought the pay issue to Shiel Sexton’s attention in August 2011. Clark told the firm’s project manager, Dan Lawson, that he was receiving $12 an hour, less than half what he should have.

Clark presented Lawson with a time sheet showing he was earning the full amount. Clark said, “This is fake,” records state.

Shiel Sexton audited time sheets Roark’s company submitted from November 2010 through August 2011. The general contractor gave Roark $96,714 so he could give restitution checks to his workers, records state.

Roark then turned around and offered his workers cash payment in exchange for their restitution checks, but the cash was not for the full amount, Curry alleges. One employee told investigators he gave back about $21,000 in exchange for $500 in cash to “help the company.”

Because it was Shiel Sexton’s money that Roark was reclaiming from his employees, the move netted him the theft charge, which is a Class D felony. A conviction carries three months to six years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

The forgery charges, related to the time sheets, are Class C felonies. With a conviction, each could result in two to eight years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The five counts Roark faces of common construction wage violations are all Class B misdemeanors. Each could mean up to 180 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.

This is the second time a prosecutor has filed common wage criminal charges in Indiana, according to the prosecutor’s office. In October 2011, Indianapolis contractor White River Mechanical Inc. agreed to a $1,000 fine and an Indiana Department of Labor audit after admitting it underpaid its employees during an Indianapolis Public School project.

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