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Minnesota trucking firm owner charged with swindling employees

Gary Bauerly faces up to 20 years in prison for swindling employees of their legal wages.

The Associated Press

3/30/2012

MINNEAPOLIS — The owner of a central Minnesota trucking company is accused of swindling dozens of his employees of their legal wages.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman alleges that 64-year-old Gary Francis Bauerly of Rice used several schemes to avoid paying the full prevailing wages his workers had earned.

Freeman alleges that Bauerly pocketed about $52,000.

The Star Tribune reports the contracts that Bauerly allegedly skimmed were public road construction projects that involved the state, four counties and three cities.

Bauerly owns WATAB, a trucking firm based in Rice and St. Cloud. He was charged Thursday with theft by swindle over $35,000.

WATAB is no longer in business. Bauerly was not in custody Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

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The six contracts that Bauerly allegedly skimmed were road construction projects that involved the state; Hennepin, Pine, Stearns and Washington counties; and Brooklyn Center, Osseo and Plymouth.

Freeman said it was the first time such a case had been charged by his office, in part because most wage scams aren't done in such a serial and blatant fashion. Hennepin County was the contracting agent in two of the alleged scams and the site for three of them.

The charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

According to the complaint filed Thursday, Bauerly allegedly told his office manager and employees that prevailing wages were unfair, that he couldn't afford them and that he didn't think he should have to pay them. But he continued to provide services for contractors working on state and local projects.

One of his schemes, according to the complaint, was to pay employees with two checks, one for the standard wage and another for the balance owed under the prevailing wage. "The second check was never dispersed to employees," the complaint said.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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