By  on February 24, 2010

ALBANY, N.Y. — David Cohen, owner of seven clothing stores in Manhattan, has been arrested for allegedly failing to pay his employees proper legal wages, falsifying tax and business records and “trying to impede the attorney general’s investigation,” New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

Criminal and civil actions have been filed by Cuomo against Cohen, whose stores include Mystique Boutique, 547 Broadway, 324 Fifth Avenue and 412 Broadway; Madness Boutique, 315 Canal Street; Exstaza, 491 Broadway, and Amsterdam, 454 Broadway and 365-367 Canal Street.

According to Cuomo, “From at least 2004, Cohen’s employees have often worked 10 to 11 hours per day, six days per week. Most employees were not paid overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week in violation of state and federal wage laws. In total, over 150 employees are owed more than $1.5 million in unpaid wages and damages.”

Cuomo has charged that tax records reveal Cohen and his companies falsified tax records by underreporting to New York State both the number of employees at his stores and their salaries.

“These records are relied on by New York State to calculate an employer’s liability to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. By misrepresenting his total payroll each quarter, Cohen allegedly cheated the Unemployment Insurance Fund and increased the burden on other New York employers,” the attorney general said.

Among other allegations, Cohen is charged with 19 counts of “falsifying business records” in the first degree and 19 counts of “offering a false instrument for filing,” both of which are Class “E” felonies that each carry terms of up to four years in prison. Cuomo is also seeking civil damages of at least $1.5 million for the underpaid employees.

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