For Immediate Release - August 19, 2011

Lowell Asbestos Company and its Corporate Officers Plead Guilty and are Debarred for Wage and Hour Violations

Company and its Officers Also Ordered to Pay More Than $110,000 in Restitution to Former Employees

LOWELL - The owners of a Lowell asbestos abatement company have been debarred from bidding on or contracting for public construction contracts after pleading guilty to violating numerous wage and hour laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today.

Northeast Abatement Corporation (Northeast Abatement), and its corporate officers, Phaly Rim, 48 , and Chanveasna Pech, 30 , both of Lowell, pled guilty on August 16, 2011, in Lowell District Court to charges of Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage, Failure to Pay Overtime, and Failure to Submit True and Accurate Certified Payroll Records to the Awarding Authority. Mark Pech, age 47, Secretary of Northeast Abatement, pled guilty to Willful Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage, Willful Failure to Pay Overtime, and Willful Failure to Submit True and Accurate Certified Payroll Records to the Awarding Authority. After the pleas were entered, District Court Judge Laurence Pierce sentenced Mark Pech to six months in the House of Correction, with the sentence suspended for a probationary period of two years. Pech was also debarred for a period of five years. Judge Pierce sentenced both Rim and Chanveasna Pech to two years of probation and both have been debarred for a period of six months. The company, Northeast Abatement has also been debarred for six months. All four defendants must also pay more than $110,000 in restitution to their employees.

In March 2010, the AG's Fair Labor Division received complaints from seven employees of Northeast Abatement alleging that the company had failed to pay them for the asbestos removal work they performed from January 2010 through March 2010 at the Village School in Marblehead. An investigator from the AG's Fair Labor Division conducted a site inspection and confirmed that Northeast Abatement performed the asbestos removal work at the public construction project. Northeast Abatement was then ordered to submit both its general and certified payroll records to investigators for inspection. Investigators discovered that Northeast Abatement and its three corporate officers failed to pay all of their employees any wages for the work done at the project, including overtime. Further investigation by the AG's Office revealed that Northeast Abatement had submitted certified payroll records to the awarding authority claiming that it had in fact paid its employees. The AG's Office previously cited Mark Pech, as the corporate officer of another asbestos removal company, in December 2009 for similar wage and hour violations. As a result of those previous violations, he was charged in this most recent case with willfully violating the wage laws and consequently received a five year mandatory debarment.

The Attorney General's Office is responsible for enforcing the laws regulating the prevailing wage, payment of wages laws, overtime and misclassification of employees in the Commonwealth. Workers who believe they have been misclassified or that their rights have been violated are strongly urged to call the Attorney General's Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General's Workplace Rights website:

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Miranda S. Jones and Investigator Nuno Fontes Montrond, both of AG Coakley's Fair Labor Division.