- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Prosecutors hammered a Brooklyn contractor Wednesday with allegations he cheated workers out of $100,000 and reneged on promises of permanent jobs and health care.

Contractor Anthony Miller and his firm Bael Out Enterprises were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court on charges they schemed to defraud more than 70 workers and failed to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.

Miller, 51, most recently of Denver, Colorado, faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Information on his lawyer was not immediately available.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said Miller defrauded workers he hired in late 2012 and early 2013 to convert the former St. Mary’s Hospital in Crown Heights into a veteran’s services center.

Miller and his firm are the first defendants charged through the district attorney office’s new Labor Frauds Unit, which investigates and prosecutes fraud against employees, including wage violations, unemployment insurance fraud and labor trafficking.

Thompson said Miller and his firm promised to pay the workers between $12 and $20 per hour and, after claiming he had an ownership stake in the center, said they would receive permanent jobs, along with training and health care, once construction was completed. Miller never kept those promises and even had trouble paying workers for the demolition and construction work he originally hired them for, Thompson said.

After failing to pay workers for two weeks and promising to increase their pay to make up for the delay, Miller gave them checks from an account with no money, the prosecutor said.

Miller and his company “preyed on and exploited people who needed to work to provide for their families and denied them wages that they rightfully earned after weeks of labor,” Thompson said in a statement.

“We will not allow the hardworking people of Brooklyn to get ripped off by anyone, including any dishonest employer,” Thompson said.

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