Landscaping co. owner pleads guilty to wage, benefits fraud

Fraud involved I-195 Relocation Project, Hartford Park construction

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The owner of a landscaping and nursery company is pleading guilty to charges he schemed to avoid paying union benefits and falsified unemployment documents.

Steven F. Pagliarini, 57, pleaded guilty to three counts of falsification of documents and one count of wire fraud, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

Pagliarini was accused of arranging it so his Central Landscaping Construction Company in Johnston avoided paying contractually-obligated benefits to union employees who worked on federally funded projects.

Further, he was accused of giving false information to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) about some employees of Johnston- and Chepachet-based Central Nurseries, Inc., where employees were paid unemployment compensation they were not entitled to receive.

The benefits fraud took place between January 2007 and December 2010. Documents submitted by Pagliarini did not accurately reflect the actual number of hours worked and actual amount of wages paid to various employees on federally-funded projects to relocate I-195, and build housing at Hartford Park in Providence.

The wage fraud took place between November 2009 and April 2010. Pagliarini lied to the DLT about laying off employees due to a ‘lack of work.’ In truth, he required employees to work part-time and he did not pay them, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. The DLT ended up paying the employees $68,487 in unemployment checks.

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