N.Y. Supermarket Said Swindling Workers

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N.Y. Supermarket Said Swindling Workers

Executives at an Associated supermarket in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn reportedly were arrested this week on charges that they had scammed employees out of over $300,000 and had falsified business records given to state officials.

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said in The New York Times that president Bienvenido Nunez and v.p. Martin Duran paid no salary to supermarket baggers, who worked only for tips, and paid a weekly $300 salary to other employees who worked 70-hour weeks. The hourly pay rate works out to $4.29, well below New York's minimum wage of $7.15 an hour. Most of the store's workers are Hispanic immigrants.

Nunez and Duran, who surrendered to investigators, pleaded not guilty at their arraignment in Kings County Criminal Court.

Cuomo's office has filed a civil lawsuit demanding that the supermarket pay $600,000 in back wages and penalties for over 30 workers who received inadequate pay from 2004 to 2006. The attorney general also accused the supermarket of submitting falsified employment records to the state, in particular a separate set of payroll records claiming that most of its employees worked no more than 40 hours a week.

Additionally, the two executives also allegedly filed fraudulent documents with the State Unemployment Insurance Fund, saying the supermarket employed fewer workers than it actually did, to reduce the amount unemployment insurance taxes the market was supposed to pay.

If found guilty, Nunez and Duran could face to up to four years in prison.