Trucking company owner Gary Bauerly, 64, of Rice, MN, has been charged with “theft by swindle” for using a variety of schemes to avoid the Minnesota state wage law, underpaying employees and pocketing about $52,000 in savings, according to a criminal complaint filed last week by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
Bauerly’s now-defunct trucking company, WATAB, performed work on road projects in several counties, including Hennepin. Minnesota’s prevailing wage law sets wages on state-funded construction projects.
Payroll data submitted to government agencies show workers made $25.13 to $34.80 per hour, but internal payroll records at WATAB showed employees making $11 to $16 per hour, according to the complaint.
Bauerly’s efforts to circumvent the law were inventive, according to the complaint. In one instance, he printed up two paychecks for each employee — one for the actual wage owed and another for the additional amount tied to the prevailing wage law. The second checks were never distributed to employees, but the amounts showed up on their W-2 forms. Employees at the trucking company who received shorted pay tipped off state officials, according to a report by TwinCities.com.
Bauerly would also have his son Jake Bauerly near worksites to greet trucks. The truck drivers making the prevailing wage were replaced behind the wheel by Jake Bauerly before they could drive onto the work site, the complaint alleges. Because his son was an owner of WATAB, Bauerly wasn’t required to pay him the prevailing wage.
Employees were also allegedly required to falsify time sheets by putting Jake Bauerly’s name on haul slips to avoid payment of the prevailing wage, according to the complaint.
Freeman said he packaged WATAB violations on various job sites to get over the $35,000 legal threshold to be able to file the felony theft-by-swindle charges which could result in a prison term for Bauerly if found guilty.