Company Faces Criminal Charges Over Wages for Public Project

A company that received public money to do drywall construction at a homeless center was criminally charged Tuesday with paying its workers less than the required prevailing wage.

Mario L. Balestrieri, 34, president of Welow Enterprises, was charged with seven misdemeanor counts of failing to pay workers the wage required for designated public works projects, said Deputy City Atty. Deborah Sanchez.

Palms-based Welow Enterprises, doing business as Dimension Drywall Co., allegedly underpaid seven workers a total of $29,135 for their work at New Directions, a regional center for homeless men in the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus.

Drywall finishers working for the company were underpaid $2,122 to $5,750 during March and April of last year, Sanchez alleged.

The federal prevailing-wage law applied because the job was a city-funded public works project, Sanchez said. She said the prevailing wage was $27.85 an hour, and $39.43 an hour for overtime. The company allegedly paid workers based on the amount of square footage of finished drywall, a practice Sanchez said is illegal.

Balestrieri's arraignment is scheduled for March 27 in Los Angeles Municipal Court.

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