By Trish Hartman
Two well-known business owners in Scranton are accused of stealing from a local painters union. The father and son team allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars by ripping off local workers.
James Sinkaus and his father, Paul, turned themselves in Tuesday morning in Scranton.
Investigators said they own a drywall business and stole more than $51,000 from a local painters’ union.
James Sinkaus blames the situation on the tough economy. “We can show we’re a father/son company. We had some issues with what happened, but we’ll show we’re innocent,” es Sinkaus said.
Investigators said the Sinkauses run JVS Specialties, a drywall business in Taylor.
They signed a contract with a local painters union and hired workers for several jobs.
Agents said the Sinkauses withheld money from paychecks money that was supposed to go to the union for the workers’ pensions, health care and other benefits but that money never got back to the union.
Union representative Robert Griffiths said the 10 affected workers are still struggling. “We’ve been warning them since April that this would be the outcome if he didn’t start paying. The members don’t have health care now because they didn’t pay the benefits,” Griffiths explained.
Investigators said the thefts started in January and were still happening as recently as last month.
Griffiths said the Sinkauses didn’t pay unemployment benefits either, leaving the workers with no pay at all. “The union’s going to try to do the best we can to put them back to work with other contractors, but it’s a bad situation,” Griffiths added.
“Members of the painters union, they didn’t do this for nothing. They did it and they expected to be paid. The funds were deducted from their salaries and not forwarded to the appropriate people at the union,” said Assistant District Attorney Paul Ware.
Their lawyer said the Sinkauses were not paid by contractors that hired them and intend on paying the workers union back when they get the money.
“They did not receive money and not pay it. They simply are waiting to get money from the contractors that they are hired by,” explained defense attorney Mark Powell. “It’s bad economic times. They owe the money, they’re going to do whatever they can to pay the money.”
Both father and son were released after they were arraigned.
They are due back in court next week for a hearing.