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Groups representing young people in Montana hope to stop a slate of election laws from going into effect before a June primary; Texas falls short on steps to prevent the next winter power outage.

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Democrats get voting rights legislation to Senate floor; Sec. of State Antony Blinken heads to Ukraine; a federal appeals court passes along a challenge to Texas' abortion ban.

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Contractor Admits Fraud, Fills New WV Contract with Out-of-State Workers

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Florida contractor confessed to defrauding workers on a Braxton County project, but still won a million-dollar state contract in Charleston. The contractor now could be in legal trouble again by not using West Virginia workers on the new job.

In August, Nomiki and Michael Valvlas pled guilty to fraud for violating federal wage-and-hour rules on a bridge contract with federal highway funds. Brian Stanley, director of marketing for Painters and Allied Trades District Council 53, said the company has changed its name from VHP Enterprises to International Rigging Group and got another state contract to spot-paint the Yeager Bridge.

"Cheating workers out of wages, misclassification and then lying on documents," he said, "and they just pled guilty to that. How can they come back to West Virginia and bid on another state project?"

Stanley claimed the contractor has brought all - or almost all - the workers for the Yeager Bridge project from out of state - even though the West Virginia Jobs Act requires that contracts paid for with public money use 75 percent in-state workers. Stanley said qualified West Virginians were turned away when they applied.

"I know of 14 local industrial painters who have bridge-painting experience - they're journeymen - that applied," he said. "None of 'em were contacted to be hired."

He said the company hasn't changed anything but its name, and International Rigging even uses the same Florida headquarters.

"That's the same address as VHP. Same principal officers, same location," he said, "The equipment they used under VHP is the same equipment they use under International Rigging."

Calls to the two companies rang to the same office, and both firms referred questions to the same attorney. That lawyer promised to call back and answer questions, but has not.

More information is online at media.wix.com.


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