Contractor Admits to Felony in East Hampton Town Hall Project

Richard Lewin
A sign on the lawn in front of East Hampton Town Hall reminds residents and visitors they must wear a face covering when they cannot social distance.

A contracting company has admitted to submitting false payroll information to coverup the fact that it underpaid its workers hired to repair the roof of East Hampton Town Hall.

Bay Shore-based William G. Prophy, LLC pleaded guilty Thursday at Suffolk County court to a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing. The owner of the company, 58-year-old William Proefriedt, was also arrested in 2018 and facing a second count of the same charge for allegedly falsely stating that his workers were licensed to do plumbing, electrical and HVAC work in his bid to restore the Pyrrhus Concer House in the Village of Southampton. 

“The consequences of these unscrupulous business practices are two-fold: on the one hand, you have employees not being paid their fair share for the work they are doing, which is not only illegal but immoral,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “On the other hand, you have bad actors winning contracts over upstanding companies by cutting corners at the expense of their workers and under-bidding the competition.”

The company, doing business as  WGP Contracting, Inc., won its bid on the East Hampton public works project to replace the cedar shake shingle roof on Nov. 16, 2017, but during course of the project, the company paid several employees as laborers instead of roofers, which must be paid at a higher rate in accordance with New York State’s prevailing wage schedule, prosecutors said. Payrolls records that the company submitted to the town contained the misclassifications and falsely asserted that the workers had been paid properly, authorities said.

A joint investigation with the New York State Department of Labor also revealed evidence that the company had similarly misclassified several of the same workers on a public works project to renovate toll booths at Jones Beach State Park.

As a part of the plea, Proefriedt forfeited $42,664.63, which will be distributed to the underpaid workers on the East Hampton and Jones Beach projects, was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, and is barred from bidding on public works projects for five years. The charge in the Southampton case was dismissed in exchange for the plea.

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