Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

An ex-general contractor was sentenced Thursday to two years in state prison after pleading guilty to defrauding employees out of more than $80,000 in wages from a state contract.

Sourin Babayan, 65, of Glendale had been accused of keeping the money from a state public works contract for himself. His company, SDB Construction, was a subcontractor on a job to install fire sprinklers in several buildings at a state developmental hospital in Costa Mesa, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Babayan, who pleaded guilty to 17 felony counts of taking and receiving a portion of a worker’s wage from a public contract and six felony counts of dissuading a witness, was also ordered to pay $80,200 in restitution, officials said.

His company was retained in January 2013.

Prosecutors said that between February and June of that year, he required his 17 workers to return some of their wages or face termination and then submitted false and forged payroll records before receiving a lump-sum payment for wages from the master contractor, DJM Construction.

“Babayan then issued payroll checks for the correct amount due to his staff for proper bookkeeping. Babayan had his employees return some of their wages back to him and the defendant kept that money for his own personal use,” according to statement from the District Attorney’s Office.

Babayan later lost the contract and his employees lost their jobs, officials said.

When some of them contacted the District Attorney’s Office, an investigation was launched.

Prosecutors said that on July 12, 2013, Babayan invited his employees to his house, promising to give them their last paychecks but he instead dissuaded them from being witnesses against him.

The case was also investigated by the state Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

City News Service

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