TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced today that a telecommunications contractor will pay $175,000 to resolve allegations that the company defrauded the state while denying its workers the wages they earned.
The settlement with Adalex Enterprises Corp. d/b/a Adalex Communications; Advance Telecom Resources, Inc.; and Adalex’s principals Anthony Parisella and Joseph Notarangelo comes in a whistleblower suit alleging that the company failed to pay its workers the prevailing wages required by law while the company was contracted to perform telecommunications work for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (“UMDNJ”). The State moved to intervene in the case in September 2020.
More than half of this settlement will be paid to two former Adalex employees whom the State identified as having been underpaid. The whistleblower who first revealed the allegedly unlawful conduct also will receive a $25,000 share of the settlement.
“We’re putting money back in the pockets of the workers who earned it,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “As this case demonstrates, we are using all of the tools at our disposal to protect New Jersey workers.”
“Public contracting is a privilege, not a right,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “The vast majority of public contractors are good actors who do the right things for their employees. But, as this case clearly shows, we are committed to rooting out the bad actors and making sure those working on public projects receive all the wages and benefits they are due.”
The New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act establishes a prevailing wage level for workers engaged in public works in order to safeguard the worker’s efficiency and general well-being, and to protect them as well as their employers from the effects of unfair competition.
The law requires the payment of minimum rates of pay to laborers, craftsmen, and apprentices employed on public works projects. When a contractor fails to pay a worker the prevailing wage after committing to do so, and submits a claim for payment to the state, the contractor also may violate the New Jersey False Claims Act.
Under its contract, Adalex handled a variety of projects for UMDNJ and its successor entities, including infrastructure work such as cable installation and repair, day-to-day operational support, and other jobs based on purchase orders.
Each of these task categories included work to be performed by either a “journeyman” electrician or a “foreman,” workers required by law to be paid the prevailing wage for any prevailing wage work they performed.
UMDNJ’s Request for Proposals on the contract ultimately won by Adalex included specific language indicating the winning bidder must pay its workers prevailing wages for prevailing wage work.
A review by the State, however, found that Adalex billed UMDNJ and its successor entities more than $100 per hour for its workers’ labor, while actually paying those same workers an effective rate of less than $30 per hour. Under prevailing wage laws, Adalex should have paid the workers more than twice as much.
The agreement announced today represents the second resolution of allegations by the State against Adalex related to its failure to pay prevailing wages. Today’s agreement covers allegations relating to 2013-2014. Previously, Adalex agreed to pay more than $114,500 to settle failure-to-pay-prevailing-wage allegations for 2015-2016 brought by New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance.
Under terms of the settlement announced today, neither Adalex nor the company’s two principals, Anthony Parisella and Joseph Notarangelo, admit liability or wrongdoing.
The monetary aspect of the settlement requires the defendants to:
The State was represented in this matter by Deputy Attorney General and Section Chief Lara Fogel; Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief Kenneth Levine; Deputy Attorney General Carla Pereira; Deputy Attorney General Dana Vasers; and Attorney Jedediah Pencinger, all from the Government & Healthcare Fraud Section of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, and Assistant Attorney General Janine Matton of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group.