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Glenn O. Hawbaker to pay more than $20 million in restitution to Pa. workers

By: - August 3, 2021 3:49 pm

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Glenn O. Hawbaker will pay more than $20 million in restitution for stealing from workers (Screenshot).

One of Pennsylvania’s largest contractors will pay more than $20 million to its workers after entering into a plea agreement with the state attorney general over wage theft.

Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., a family-owned construction company in Centre County, pleaded no contest to four counts of theft Tuesday morning. The plea comes nearly four months after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed charges against the contractor for stealing more than $20 million from employees for more than three decades.

“Our company’s decision to plead no contest avoids protracted litigation, which could have jeopardized the livelihoods of our dedicated employees,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to believe that we followed all requirements regarding the fringe benefits.”

The company added: “The fringe benefit practices challenged by the Office of Attorney General were based upon advice provided by the company’s former attorneys. Hawbaker has always intended to properly pay all of its employees.”

Hawbaker will have to repay all the wages and retirements the company is accused of stealing within the statute of limitations, Shapiro said during a Tuesday press conference. In total, the company will pay $20,696,453 in restitution to 1,267 Pennsylvania workers and $240,562 to the attorney general’s office for investigative costs.

“Here’s the bottom line — these workers are going to get their money back,” Shapiro. “This company is being held accountable, and every other company in Pennsylvania is now on notice that we are watching.”

A three-year investigation into the company’s practices for calculating and claiming fringe benefit credits revealed that the business used money intended for employees’ retirement funds to contribute to retirement accounts for all Hawbaker employees, including the owners and executives. 

These practices allowed the contractor to underbid projects, offset other costs, and deny other companies from working throughout the state, prosecutors said.

“The men and women doing the back-breaking work on Pennsylvania roadways had their retirements stolen from them by the C-suite executives who were sitting in their cozy offices on those hot summer days,” Shapiro said.

Charges were filed against the 69-year-old company, not individuals. Hawbaker has secured one municipal contract since being accused earlier this year. Shapiro said his office does not have jurisdiction over contract eligibility and state projects.

“I think the investigation, the charges we brought to plea, speaks for itself, and it’ll be up to the [Gov. Tom Wolf] administration and local governments to determine whether this is really a company they want to do business with going forward,” Shapiro told reporters.

He added: “I think there’s a lot of good, honest companies out there who do the right thing, and if they have the best prices and the best skills, I would think those would be the companies that should be doing the work.”

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Marley Parish
Marley Parish

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.