California DIR Fines Contractor $512,700 for Public Works Violations

The Marin County contractor, whose contractor’s license was revoked last May by the Contractor’s State License Board, is also prohibited from bidding on or receiving any public works contracts in California until 2013.

The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DIR/DAS), which oversees apprentices in public works projects, has issued a debarment and civil penalties totaling $512,700 against Christopher J. Augusto, dba Christopher J Augusto Plumbing Company.

The Marin County contractor, whose contractor’s license was revoked last May by the Contractor’s State License Board, is also prohibited from bidding on or receiving any public works contracts in California until 2013. The debarment applies to Augusto individually as well as any business entities in which he has an ownership interest or management responsibility. This is the second time action has been taken against Augusto by DAS in a three-year debarment order.

A DAS complaint investigation filed by the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Unions 38 and 159 found that Augusto failed to comply with the requirements for contractors on public works jobs to secure training opportunities for apprentices, breaching the terms of a settlement agreement reached in its first debarment.

“Augusto Plumbing Company was well aware of the apprenticeship requirements and knew it was breaking the law,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “In 2007, the company was disbarred but was allowed to continue work it had already begun on four public works projects under the stipulation that it would immediately follow all apprenticeship requirements. This company willfully violated those regulations again. Attempts to undermine these regulations ultimately hurt companies that are playing by the rules, and we will not allow that to happen.”

DAS also learned that Augusto’s business performed work on other public works projects that were not exempted from the 2007 debarment: the Richmond Library in San Francisco and the Contra Costa College Library in San Pablo.

In 2007 DAS issued a civil penalty of $35,400 and debarment in apprenticeship public works cases against Augusto for work performed in 2005-2006 in the cities of Danville, Napa, and Berkeley. The investigation found that Augusto had failed to comply with the requirements for contractors on public works jobs to secure training opportunities for apprentices. Augusto had fraudulently claimed membership in an approved apprenticeship program, but the investigation found it was terminated for failure to pay benefit and training funds.

A settlement between DAS and Augusto was made in 2007 to accept the civil penalty of $35,400 and the three-year term of debarment but to exempt four projects in which Augusto was already involved, located in Mill Valley, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco. The first period of debarment ran from Nov. 6, 2007, to Nov. 5, 2010.

The current three year debarment against Augusto covers the period Nov. 6, 2010, through Nov. 5, 2013. The debarment prohibits Augusto the right to bid on or receive any public works contracts.

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