CLEARFIELD – A central Pennsylvania mechanical contractor has been accused of underpaying workers by more than $64,000 in wages and benefits for at least five years.
In September, more than 100 charges were filed against Scott C. Good, 56, of State College and Goodco Mechanical, which performed public works projects in Clearfield, Centre and other counties.
The charges stem from a 21-month grand jury investigation into theft allegations on a $16 million public works project in Clearfield County in 2014, according to the Attorney General’s office.
Good and his company violated prevailing wage laws by underpaying wages and claiming unlawful benefits credits on the PennDOT project, according to the AG’s office.
Additionally, Good was previously vice president for Allied Mechanical & Electrical Inc., which violated prevailing wage laws in 2006, AG Josh Shapiro said in a previously-published news release.
He said that the company was sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry for the same practice that Good is accused of at Goodco.
“Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage laws are designed to protect workers and ensure an even playing field in the bidding process for government contracts,” Shapiro said.
“The defendants are charged with violating these laws and cheating our hardworking laborers out of thousands of dollars in wages and benefits.
“[He] already knew his conduct was illegal because his former company was sanctioned for similar violations more than a decade ago, yet he brazenly flouted the law again.”
The grand jury found that Good directed journey electricians and plumbers to record portions of their work hours as lower paid laborers, according to the AG’s office.
For example, a certified electrician who worked for 10 hours in one day was allegedly directed to report nine hours of work as an electrician and one hour as a laborer.
Laborers are paid $20 less an hour than electricians, according to the AG’s office.
In a statement, Good denied these allegations, saying he looks forward to proving his innocence in court.
“[I’ve] never pressured employees working on government contracts – where state Department of Labor & Industry prevailing wage guidelines apply – to minimize the hours they work at a higher-skilled tradesman rate,” he said.
The grand jury also reportedly found that Goodco reduced the total amount it had to pay towards fringe benefits by crediting itself hourly vacation benefits that employees didn’t use.
As a result, workers were reportedly paid the incorrect rate and also had money withheld from their benefits.
The grand jury believed Goodco underpaid its employee more than $200,000 since 2010, but couldn’t file charges for these alleged thefts due to the statute of limitations, according to the AG’s office.
Through this “massive” scheme, Good reduced labor costs and bid for projects that had lower wage and fringe benefits costs, according to the AG’s office.
All charges against Good and his company were bound over to county court after a preliminary hearing Friday before Magisterial District Judge Mike Morris. Good is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.
However, Good said these charges mark a “dangerous overreach” by the state Attorney General.
“At the preliminary hearing Jan. 17, the commonwealth stipulated that the prevailing wage act contains no criminal penalties for theft,” he said, “and that this is the first time they have charged an employer with theft in connection with the act.”
Good said when a dispute over an employer’s compliance with prevailing wage occurs, under the current statute, it should be resolved by the state Labor & Industry hearing officer as a civil matter. “The Attorney General’s office is attempting to unilaterally expand the nearly 60-year-old law without any legislative oversight.”
“In reality, these charges stem from [my] resistance to union attempts to organize Goodco Mechanical, which [I] founded in 2008,” he said, adding that “earlier this month, The Associated Press reported that labor unions have contributed more than $800,000 to Shapiro’s campaign for reelection.
“… If Attorney General Shapiro is successful in circumventing the current law, many contractors may refrain from bidding on public work rather than chance the possibility of facing criminal charges over prevailing wage disputes that have always been civil matters.”
Good said he believes that Shapiro is setting a “dangerous precedent” with this “misguided case” that will make every publicly-funded project – from new school buildings to township road repairs – more costly for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to incorporate a statement released to GANT News by Scott Good, owner of Goodco Mechanical.