MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The owner of a trucking company faces a felony charge of theft by swindle for allegedly building a scheme network that allowed him to avoid paying employees the wages they earned.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office charged Gary Bauerly, the owner of WATAB, with one count of theft by swindle, according to papers filed Thursday.
An investigation involving multiple agencies found that between January and December of 2007 Bauerly pocketed $52,000 in wages that belonged to employees, the attorney’s office said.
“The defendant engaged in a series of schemes and scams to steal wages from his employees through intimidation and nefarious accounting practices,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “He defrauded not only his employees, but also the contractors and government agencies he entered into agreements with and the communities in which these projects took place.”
Bauerly’s scheme worked like this: he would give fraudulent information to contractors and administrators for various state contracts. In those contracts, he’d say that employees would have to be paid the prevailing wage rate – the rate specified in a given area by the Department of Labor and Industry for work on state projects.
But in order to avoid playing employees the prevailing wage, Bauerly used multiple schemes to intimidate his employees and keep contractors in the dark, the attorney’s office said.
According to a criminal complaint, Bauerly threatened to reduce employee’s wages if they failed to deposit money in his account; he’d force employees to falsify timesheets, he’d withhold employee wages in order to pay for business expenses; he’d write checks but wouldn’t distribute them to employees; and he’d keep two sets of book.
If convicted, Bauerly could serve up to 20 years in prison and/or pay a fine of up to $100,000.