Contractor accused of ripping off workers, threatening deportation

Contractor accused of ripping off workers, threatening deportation
SEATTLE -- A Seattle man is accused of putting up actual walls -- and then virtual walls -- around those who tried to get him to follow the law.

Contractor Dathan Williams is accused of accepting more than $1 million in government contracts while at the same time illegally underpaying his workers.

Dana Botka is with Washington State Labor and Industries. Her agency and several others have spent years investigating Williams.

"The subcontractor was paying the workers a far lower wage than the required," Botka said. "It's a big deal. We do this from time to time, but most contractors know the laws, respect the laws and pay the wages owed."

Investigators say Williams ignored those laws while operating his Rainier Avenue drywall business. He worked everywhere, from private projects at the Southcenter Mall to public places, such as a Post Office in Bellevue.

Prosecutors say Williams would pay workers a fraction of what they were owed, and then report them to immigration if they complained.

"The problem in a case like this is there are laws that protect workers' wages, both prevailing wage and minimum wage," Botka said.

Investigators eventually busted Williams by placing an undercover Seattle police officer on a couple of Eastside job sites. They reportedly caught him in the act, admitting some of his wrongdoing on tape.

Williams is now free on bail, but he's due back in court later this month.