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Landscaping Executive Pleads Guilty for Avoiding To Pay Union Benefits on FHWA Project

On January 28, 2016, Steven Pagliarini, of Johnston, RI, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Providence, RI, to falsification of documents and mail fraud in connection with his role in a scheme to avoid paying contractually obligated union benefits for employees who worked on federally funded projects. These employees worked on the $610 million FHWA-funded I-Way (Interstate 95) Relocation Project and the federally-funded Hartford Park Project in Providence.

Pagliarini serves as the Central Landscape Construction Company (Central Landscape) Executive Vice-President and Treasurer and is the Executive Vice-President of Central Nurseries, Inc. According to the Information, Pagliarini orchestrated a scheme to avoid paying contractually obligated union benefits for employees of two unions by paying a portion of the employees’ wages through Central Nurseries, a non-union company. In addition, Pagliarini allegedly provided false information to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) regarding the employment status of some of his Central Nurseries employees. Based on the information allegedly provided to RIDLT, the employees were paid unemployment compensation while still performing work on behalf of Central Nurseries and Central Landscape.

According to court documents, it is alleged that at various times, between January 2007 and December 2010, Pagliarini submitted false documents to union welfare and pension plan administrators of 2 unions that represent construction equipment operators and other employees of Central Landscape. It is alleged that the documents did not accurately reflect the actual number of hours worked by some employees and the amount of wages paid to those employees. Central Landscape performed work on approximately seven different DOT related projects in addition to the FHWA-funded I-Way project in Providence.

DOT-OIG is working this investigation jointly with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.