Construction owner defrauded workers out of pay

May 26, 2011 6:28:49 PM PDT
A Chinatown construction magnet was in a Hayward courtroom Wednesday to be sentenced for cheating hundreds of workers, most of whom were immigrants, out of their paychecks.

Monica Ung was the owner of the now-bankrupt NBC General Contractors Company who admits to cheating her employees out of millions of dollars and defrauding the state.

"She gave us really low pay (and) work long hours," former employee Chi Wong said, "so I'm happy today greedy boss will get what she done to us."

Wong believes Ung cheated him out of tens of thousands of dollars over the two years he's worked for her. Unions say she ripped off at least several hundred workers over the years, most of whom were vulnerable immigrants.

"These are immigrant workers -- Chinese speaking that knew very little English and didn't know what their rights were." Josie Camacho with the Alameda County Labor Council said.

Ung had lucrative public works contracts with cities and school districts, most of which were the in East Bay. Ung grossly underpaid her employees while showing fraudulent payroll accounts to her clients.

"They were working, sometimes, 60 hours a week and getting paid as little as $16 for that labor," Victor Uno with IBEW said.

Ung and her assistants were arrested in 2009 and charged with 48 felony counts of wage theft, perjury and insurance fraud. She pleaded guilty and no contest to two felonies in exchange for a suspended four year prison sentence and restitution of $1.2 million.

Workers will get $350,000; the state compensation insurance fund will get the rest.

But the judge said today the complex case still needs more scrutiny. Ung's attorney said the complexity of the case has to do with the amount of restitution his client has pledged.

Ung is scheduled to return to court next month.

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