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Construction firm expected to resolve huge wage-theft case

August 2, 2021 GMT

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania construction contractor is expected to resolve a massive wage-theft case in which it was accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars from its own workers by systematically violating state and federal prevailing wage laws on taxpayer-funded public infrastructure projects.

Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. of State College is scheduled to appear in Centre County Court to enter a plea Tuesday, followed by a news conference in Harrisburg by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to announce a “major update” in the criminal case.

Hawbaker, a 70-year-old company that booked $1.7 billion in state transportation construction contracts between 2003 and 2018, has been charged with four counts of theft. An email was sent to a company spokesperson seeking comment on Tuesday’s plea hearing.

Shapiro has called it a “massive, unprecedented fraud” and the largest case of its kind nationally.

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The attorney general’s office said Hawbaker stole more than $20 million from workers’ fringe benefits such as retirement and health insurance, using the money to pad its bottom line, undercut competitors, and fund internal projects and company bonuses.

The company, which has 1,200 workers, was founded in 1952 and has facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. It builds roads and bridges, produces asphalt and aggregate materials, runs quarries and provides engineering services.

Hawbaker said in a written statement after the charges were filed in April that “while we believe that we have always acted in accordance with all state and federal laws, in an abundance of caution, the company immediately changed its prevailing wage practices” after learning of the attorney general’s probe.

The company has said it was seeking a swift resolution of the criminal case.