The federal government this week charged the vice president and general superintendent of the company hired to complete the downtown Riverside streetscape with fraud, claiming that they failed to pay laborers prevailing wages, failed to make pension and other contributions to union accounts and then submitted false reports regarding wage payments and union fund contributions.
Named in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court on May 18 were Joseph Lampignano, the vice president of A Lamp Road Builders, and Giovanni “John” Traversa, employed by the company as its general superintendent.
A Lamp Road Builders was hired by the Illinois Department of Transportation as the general contractor for the East Burlington Street streetscape renovation after submitting the low bid for the work in November 2015. Because the Riverside work is being funded by grants administered by the state, IDOT is the lead agency on the project.
But it doesn’t appear that the charges against the two A Lamp officials will have any impact, at least immediately, on the Riverside project, according to Village Manager Jessica Frances. Work began on the streetscape makeover in March.
“As of right now there is not [any impact],” Frances said on Thursday. “A Lamp contractors were onsite all day today, and we’re getting progress reports about what work to expect in the future on Burlington.”
An email and phone call to A Lamp Road Builders seeking comment were not immediately returned.
According to the federal complaint, A Lamp Road Builders had engaged in a scheme to underpay workers on government-funded projects, which require prevailing wages, for at least five years.
Lampignano, who reportedly oversaw the day-to-day operation of the company and its payroll, failed to pay wages totaling more than $1.5 million to laborers and failed to make more than $1 million in contributions to union funds between 2008 and 2013, according to the complaint.
In addition, the complaint states that at least 11 laborers were asked to kick back a total of at least $64,000 to the company in the wake of an earlier civil settlement that awarded those employees wages they were entitled to but were never paid.
In 2011, A Lamp was slapped with a civil suit alleging that the company got around prevailing wage laws by claiming they were paying laborers union scale, but did so by shorting their hours on reports.
In April 2013, the company settled the lawsuit, agreeing to pay 24 laborers a total of $545,357 and paying a little more than $1 million into the Laborers’ Union pension fund.
After the settlement checks were issued, however, Lampignano and Traversa allegedly approached laborers and asked them to repay the settlement money. At least 11 of the 24 laborers did so, according to the federal complaint.
The lawsuit also alleges that Traversa lied to the FBI and U.S. Department of Labor as those agencies investigated the alleged fraud.
Both Lampignano and Traversa are scheduled to be arraigned on May 24 in the courtroom of Judge Sara L. Ellis at the Everett M. Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago.