Former Tewksbury Business Owner Admits She Failed to Pay More Than $474,000 to Workers
Defendant Ordered to Pay Money to Employees and is Prohibited from Operating Home Health Care Company
WOBURN – The former owner of a Tewksbury health care agency has pleaded guilty to charges she failed to pay more than $474,000 to her employees and has been ordered to pay the money to those employees as part of restitution, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
"It is essential that workers in the Commonwealth are properly compensated for the time that they work,” AG Coakley said. “We enforce these laws not only to protect workers, but to level the playing field for all businesses that play by the rules.”
Diane Porter, 67, of Tewksbury, former owner of Excel Home Care, Inc. (Excel) pleaded guilty to the charge of Failure to Pay Wages (93 counts). After the plea was entered, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Fahey ordered Porter to pay a total of $474,154.40 in restitution. As part of her sentence, Porter must also perform a minimum eight hours of community service per month, and will be on probation for the length of time necessary to monitor her restitution payments and compliance with the community service imposed, a maximum of 25 years. Porter is also prohibited from owning or operating any home health care agency for the duration of the probationary period.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division that began in April 2009 following multiple complaints from employees that Porter had failed to pay them any wages for extended periods of time. The affected employees included workers who provided home health care and related services to disabled adults and children, as well as administrative staff. The workers, who generally earned between $12 and $15 per hour, continued working for Porter based on her promises that she would eventually pay them. Many did not receive any pay at all for work they performed over various pay periods from January through August 2009.
Massachusetts law requires that employers pay their employees in full and in a timely manner, generally no later than 6 days after the end of the pay period in which the wages were earned.
A Middlesex County Grand Jury returned indictments against Porter and Excel on May 18, 2010. The defendants were arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on July 14, 2010, where each pleaded not guilty. Porter was released on personal recognizance. Porter pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay restitution yesterday. A separate restitution hearing has been scheduled for January 3, 2013, to further assess her ability to pay.
Workers who believe their workplace 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: www.massworkrights.com.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Lisa C. Price and Teresa Lamarre, and investigated by Nora Saint-Martin, both of the AG’s Fair Labor Division, along with assistance from Victim Witness Advocate Ashley Cinelli, also of the Attorney General’s Office.