A 30-year-old worker in California said his former employer owed him pay for hours worked. So, what do you think he did to recover the pay he believed he was owed? Take 'em to court? No, he allegedly took the (wage and hour) law into his own hands ... and is now looking at 16 months in prison.
Prosecutors alleged that the man attempted to extort money from his former employer Jayco Acceptance Corporation by posing as an investigator working with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).
The prosecutors alleged that he impersonated a deputy labor commissioner and then demanded money from his former employer via email and phone calls. He tried to force the company to pay him $600 for hours he said he worked, threatening legal action if the company failed to comply, prosecutors said.
He made the demand even though the company had already paid him $143.13 in wages and a penalty of $256 for late payment (although no late payment penalty was actually due), prosecutors said.
The state launched an investigation when the company called the Labor Commissioner's office after receiving the demand. Law enforcement authorities arrested the man when he arrived at the company thinking he was simply picking up the check he had demanded.
He recently pleaded no contest to obtaining funds through false pretenses. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench sentenced him to 16 months in state prison.
"We cannot allow the fraudulent impersonation of a state investigator to undermine the trust we need to work fairly and effectively with employers and employees." says the real Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. "We have zero tolerance for this type of activity and will work closely with authorities to prosecute any person who extorts money from employers while posing as a state official."
Last year, the California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) investigated several incidents involving a man impersonating a Cal/OSHA inspector. The man reportedly inspected worksites and told the business that he found several safety and health violations. The suspect then told the company that he wouldn't issue citations if the company gave him some cash immediately.