Trucking company owner charged with skimming wages

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 3/30/2012

The owner of a Minnesota-based trucking company has been accused of designing schemes to swindle drivers out of their prevailing wage pay for work they did on county and state road projects.

Gary F. Bauerly, 64, of Rice, MN, was charged with theft by swindle on Thursday, March 29, by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

The case dates back to 2007 for work that Bauerly and his company, Watab Hauling, did on six county and road projects in Minnesota.

“The defendant engaged in a series of schemes and scams to steal wages from his employees through intimidation and nefarious accounting practices,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman in a press release.

Freeman said that Bauerly allegedly skimmed more than $52,000 belonging to drivers and employees of Watab, who were supposed to be paid prevailing wage, according to contract stipulations regarding state road projects, but were not.

Bauerly allegedly used at least six accounting and business schemes to skim money from drivers and employees, including falsifying payroll reports that overstated actual wages paid to Watab employees, demanding that employees falsify time sheets, and withholding money from employees to pay for expenses.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s office was assisted in the investigation by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General.

In September 2009, Bauerly filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota. He listed his assets as being from $100,000 to $500,000 and his liabilities as between $500,000 and $1 million.

According to the bankruptcy petition, Watab Hauling ceased operations in 2008, and all of the assets were repossessed by American Heritage Bank.

This isn’t the first time that Bauerly’s business practices have been called into question.

In 2005, Bauerly was ordered by a federal judge to pay four employees nearly $3,500 for failing to pay them minimum wage.

At that time, he agreed that his company would “not fail to make, keep and preserve records of their employees and of the wages, hours and other conditions and practices of employment maintained by them and prescribed by the regulations issues,” according to court documents.

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