Fraudulent Back Wage Payment Claims Land Oregon Contractor in Prison Following U.S. Department of Labor Investigation
PORTLAND, Ore. – The owner of an Oregon concrete company that contracted with the federal government recently started a two-month prison sentence for lying to federal investigators. The crime occurred when he told U.S. Department of Labor officials that he had paid employees more than $93,000 in back wages that the Department’s Wage and Hour Division found the company owed its workers following a 2014 investigation.
The Department’s investigation revealed that Westwind Concrete had failed to pay the proper prevailing wage rates on a project in Tualatin in violation of the Davis Bacon and Related Acts, which applied because the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development financed the project. Westwind Concrete is based in Cloverdale.
Westwind owner Jeffery Hurliman assured the division that he would pay more than $93,000 in back wages he owed to 27 workers and later provided certifications that he claimed were from his employees attesting to having received back wages.
The Department’s Office of Inspector General investigated Hurliman after officials in the division’s Portland office noted discrepancies on the proofs of payment. The investigation revealed that the certifications were falsified and that when Hurliman learned about the investigation, he offered money to employees to lie to investigators.
The Department's findings led to federal criminal prosecution against Hurliman and a two-month prison sentence. Hurliman agreed to a deal in January 2017 in which he pleaded guilty to witness tampering and providing false statements to the government, both felonies, and began his sentence on June 15, 2017. He will be on supervised release for three years following his release from prison on Aug. 15, 2017. In the meantime, the department has sued to prevent him from obtaining future government contracts.
“The resolution of this case sends a clear message – the U.S. Department of Labor will continue to enforce the law to level the playing field for employers who play by the rules, and to ensure that workers are paid what they have legally earned,” said Portland Wage and Hour Division Director Thomas Silva. “We remain committed to educating employers, workers, and the public to improve compliance with federal labor laws across the board.”
The DBRAs require all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal and certain federally funded projects to pay their laborers and mechanics the proper prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits, as determined by the secretary of labor. The prime contractor is responsible for the compliance of subcontractors and lower-tier subcontractors on these projects.