Union Prevailing Wage Investigation Leads To Indictment of Landscaping Contractor

Christopher Ahrens

A federal grand jury indicted Scott Devereux, the owner of Mequon-based Cedarburg Landscaping Co., Inc. on six counts of fraud and ten counts of filing false documents with the federal and state governments. The indictment stems from work Cedarburg Landscaping performed on Wisconsin Department of Transportation projects subject to federal and state prevailing wage rates.   The investigation began as the result of a complaint filed by the Wisconsin Alliance for Fair Contracting, an organization under the Laborers – Employers Cooperation and Education Trust which monitors potential violations of Wisconsin prevailing wage laws.

According to the indictment, between March 2014 and August 2015, Cedarburg Landscaping under the direction of Scott Devereux allegedly paid workers below the required prevailing wage and overstated the hours he was paying on certified payroll reports submitted to the government.  If convicted Scott Devereux faces up 20 years in prison for each fraud count and 5 years on for each false filing count.

An unsealed search warrant showed more than a dozen highway contracts awarded to Cedarburg Landscaping between 2012 and 2015 totaling over $60 million. Employees interviewed by investigators during this period stated they had been paid between $2 to 5 an hour less in 2013 and 2014 at the time when wages for Wisconsin Laborers covered work required payment approx. at $23 an hour plus an additional $20 an hour in fringe benefits. Any employees protesting the wage difference were retaliated by receiving less hours of work and assigned less desirably tasks when working.

The Wisconsin Laborers Fringe Benefit Funds have a sister civil lawsuit pending in federal court seeking unpaid fringe benefits for this same period.  The case is being litigated by Yingtao Ho and Christopher Ahrens from The Previant Law Firm, S.C.