Pursuant to a request for investigative assistance by the Miami-Dade County Internal Services Department, Small Business Development (SBD), a joint criminal investigation with the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General was initiated into Almazan Construction LLC., and its owner Samuel J. Almazan, who was suspected of falsifying back wage affidavits and checks in order to show compliance with SBD. The prime contractor, Poole & Kent Co., had been hired to perform work on the Miami- Dade County Water and Sewer Department’s (WASD) Consent Decree Waste Water Chlorination Treatment Facilities. In turn, Almazan Construction LLC. was sub-contracted by the prime contractor to perform part of the contracted work.
As part of its compliance monitoring at WASD, SBD determined that Almazan had not been paying his employees the correct responsible wages as dictated by the contract. SBD instructed Almazan that he was to repay all employees, submit back wage affidavits, and provide copies of the negotiated checks to show compliance with SBD. In addition, a penalty fee imposed by SBD was to be paid to the County. SBD contacted the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) after its initial review of the documentation provided by Almazan was suspect.
The OIG investigation uncovered that none of the back wage affidavits were completed by the workers and their signatures had been forged. Additionally, the repayment checks also contained forged signatures and were deposited by Almazan into his own account. OIG Special Agents interviewed Almazan who confessed to completing the back wage affidavits for his employees, forging their signatures on the checks and affidavits, and depositing the checks into his own personal account. All of the workers were subsequently reimbursed by the prime contractor Poole & Kent Co.
“Miami-Dade County has long made it a priority to establish wage guidelines in all of its construction contracts,” noted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. After allegedly cheating his workers, then allegedly forging their signatures on reimbursement checks and depositing those checks in his own personal bank account, Samuel J. Almazan’s actions appear to be a new low in employer/employee relations.”
Almazan has been charged with the following third degree felonies:
- 10 Counts of Forgery
- 10 Counts of Uttering Forged Instruments
- 1 Count of Organized Scheme to Defraud.
“Stealing from the working poor is low, but to go to the extent of this cover up is truly deplorable. Allegations of wage theft by County contractors will be vigorously investigated by my office,” stated Miami-Dade County Inspector General Mary Cagle.
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