The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 19, 2012

Georgia company president ‘stunned’ at criminal charges

JOPLIN, Mo. — Troy Langley, president of Urban Metropolitan Development of Atlanta, Ga., in an email statement on Wednesday, said he was stunned that his company and its project manager, Jennifer Taylor, now face criminal charges accusing them of not paying prevailing wages to employees who worked on demolition projects last fall for the Joplin School District.

UMD and Taylor also have been charged with 10 felony counts of forgery in connection with the alleged altering of copies of checks before their submission to the state as proof that the company paid its workers prevailing wage, as required by law.

Langley, who has filed suit in federal court alleging that the Joplin School Board and its director of buildings, grounds and transportation violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Urban Metro, a minority-owned business, said the charges are an attempt to mask the real issue.

“This latest aspersion is the Missouri Department of Labor and the Joplin School District’s attempt to mask the issues of racial intimidation, nonpayment for work completed, and retaliatory wrongful discharged (sic) that plagued this project,” he said.

Langley said Urban Metro hired a third party, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, to complete the certified payroll records and ensure that prevailing wages were paid. He said an employee of PTAC “signed her name, under penalty of perjury, stating that the record keeping was true and accurate.”

He said the PTAC employee was not an employee or agent of Urban Metro, but acted as an independent contractor for the specific duty of completing certified payroll and ensuring that workers were compensated the prevailing wage amount.

Langley wrote: “The Missouri DOL, acting in concert with Joplin School District, alleged discrepancies were discovered. UMD and Jennifer Taylor have been working with the DOL to clear any discrepancies that may exist. In fact, UMD challenged the calculations and unfair practices of the Missouri DOL and had arbitration scheduled to resolve the matter.

“UMD is stunned by these charges considering the matter remains an open dispute.”

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed the charges jointly with Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson. They announced the charges Tuesday afternoon at a news conference at Joplin City Hall.

Nanci Gonder, press secretary for Koster, in a statement released Wednesday, said: “The state’s prosecution is based on evidence obtained through its investigation. The evidence includes falsified documentation provided to the state by Ms. Taylor, UMD’s project manager.”

Langley, via email from the Globe, was asked to provide evidence of the alleged racial intimidation in connection the company’s work on the demolition of three schools damaged in the 2011 tornado: Irving Elementary School, the old South Middle School and Joplin High School.

The company did not respond to the request Wednesday.

UMD filed a lawsuit against the school district earlier this year in federal court, seeking $2.2 million in damages. It alleges that the district missed progress payments on a contract to demolish the schools.

In response to the company’s lawsuit, the school district countered with a lawsuit against UMD. Those suits are still active in federal court.

About the company’s lawsuit and its allegation that the school district violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, C.J. Huff, superintendent of the Joplin School District, on Tuesday said: “Our position is the opposite of their position. We feel very confident of our position in that case.”

Huff said the school district was not surprised when the criminal charges were filed, noting that the district had worked closely with the Department of Labor on the case after the district became concerned about record keeping “that did not appear to be right.”

About 20 employees of UMD are identified in a probable-cause statement as being underpaid. Koster said it is possible that the company could be barred from working in the state if the court determines that it violated the state’s prevailing wage law.

Missouri’s prevailing wage law requires that workers on public projects receive no less than the prevailing hourly wage, which is set before a project begins and is based on the county and the type of work.

Under the prevailing wage law, UMD was required to submit weekly certified payrolls to the Missouri Department of Labor and to the school district. As part of its oversight, the Labor Department requested that the company also submit copies of payroll checks for workers on the project.

Dankelson said the Division of Labor Standards requested copies of canceled checks to reflect the payment of the net wages indicated on the certified payroll forms that were submitted to the school district.

The Division of Labor Standards subpoenaed canceled checks from Bank of America to compare with those submitted by UMD. The bank records showed that 37 checks had been altered, according to Koster.

Koster alleges that UMD and Taylor altered copies of checks to make it appear that workers were paid prevailing wages, and submitted the forged documents to the Department of Labor and the Joplin School District. Those activities allegedly occurred between Nov. 29, 2011, and March 16, 2012.

UMD filed its lawsuit against the school district in April.

The combined wage underpayment to the employees was at least an estimated $55,000, according to the attorney general’s office. The probable-cause statement said the underpayment amount could be as high as $77,760.

Punishment ranges

FELONY FORGERY is punishable by up to seven years in prison, as well as fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for businesses. Each instance of failure to pay prevailing wage carries a fine of up to $500 or up to six months in prison, or both.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Embezzler from Joplin car dealerships sent to prison

    A federal judge has sentenced Kathryn M. Stayton to 13 months in prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from Frank Fletcher Ford and Credit Cars of Joplin. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays assessed the 36-year-old Joplin woman the prison term at a sentencing hearing this week in federal court in Springfield. The judge also ordered the former controller at both car dealerships to pay restitution totaling $121,249. 51.

    April 18, 2014

  • Screening of MSSU presidential applicants to wrap by end of April

    The Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University could be in a position to name a president as early as the end of June, according to a timeline presented Friday by the co-chair of the presidential search committee.

    April 18, 2014

  • Teams from Carl Junction, Diamond advance in Destination Imagination

    Student teams from Carl Junction and Diamond will be traveling to Destination Imagination finals May 20-24 in Knoxville, Tenn., after being top finishers in competition this month at Missouri Southern State University.

    April 18, 2014

  • Neosho Dogwood Tour reset, after false start

    The 53rd annual Neosho Dogwood Tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27. The event, presented by the Neosho Rotary Club and the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, originally was scheduled for Sunday, April 13.

    April 18, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Pittsburg Farmer's Market to open in new building, new location

    The official market season in Pittsburg, Kan., will kick off in the market’s new pavilion-style building at a new address, 11th and Broadway, on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Market hours will continue throughout the season on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon, with some Wednesdays or other special days throughout the season as announced.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter