Belton: Company Ordered To Overtime Owed To Employees

BELTON (October 17, 2013)--Belton-based High Performance Ropes of America has been convicted of one count of making false statements and was ordered to pay $165,356 in overtime back wages and damages to 31 employees for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

The company was also ordered to pay fines totaling $21,100.

The company’s owner, plant manager and officer manager were convicted on separate counts, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The company and its officials were found guilty of felonies, including making a false statement, aiding and abetting illegal re-entry into the U.S. and withholding information about a crime, the Labor Department said.

Luis Alvarez Jr., Mario Champo and Mary Becerra were sentenced to time served with probation, the department said.

The company makes heavy duty wire rope, which is used in construction, mining, oil and gas, bridge suspension and ski lifts.

The charges stem from a two-year investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division covering a period from December 2008 that determined that the company failed to pay workers who worked more than 40 hours in a week time-and-a-half for the overtime, the department said in a press release Thursday.

A second investigation from December 2010 to March 2013 “revealed that the employer submitted false payment evidence to the department and demanded kickbacks from the workers while continuing to avoid overtime obligations,” the department said in the press release.

“The employer also kept a second set of time records hidden from investigators,” the department said.

“High Performance Ropes of America, a company with a history of FLSA violations, furnished falsified records to Labor Department investigators and willfully withheld information that showed employees worked up to 96 hours per workweek, with no overtime compensation,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest.

“These were egregious labor violations that resulted in the exploitation of low-wage workers. As demonstrated by the prosecution and sentencing of the defendants, we are committed to working with federal agencies, such as the Justice Department, to pursue the full force of the law against employers who engage in criminal activities.”

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