Civil Suit Claims Failure Of Pay, Embezzlement At Hopkinsville Solid Waste


Two former employees of Hopkinsville Solid Waste Enterprise have filed a demonstrative and extensive civil suit against their former employer, alleging five counts of various failures to render overtime and compensation, as well as the muzzling of a possible embezzlement scheme.

Jonathan Craig Hawkins and Timothy Brian Shephard, Jr., have put forth their testament into the Owensboro Division of United States District Court, with actions pending.

Count I is failure to properly pay overtime compensation through the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Count II is non-payment for overtime compensation through Kentucky Revised Statute.
Count III is a violation of the Kentucky Whistleblower Act.
Count IV is a breach of contract for Shephard.
And Count V is violations of Kentucky’s Wages and Hours Act as non-payment of compensatory time for Hawkins.

According to the claim, the nature of this alleged embezzlement scheme was as follows:

— Former General Manager Tony Sicari would have a particular vendor bill amounts to HSW for services allegedly performed, despite Sicari knowing the amounts billed were excessive and were not rightfully owed. Such an example is that alleged repair efforts could have been easily handled, or replaced entirely with new equipment, at a substantially lower cost. But Sicari instead delivered intentionally-inflated amounts.

— Despite being aware the amounts were excessive, Sicari would ensure HSW paid these amounts, and in exchange, the vendor would pay amounts to Sicari personally.

— This was not a minor scheme. Upon information and belief, HSW paid more than $1.5 million to the vendor-conspirator over the course of years, and a substantial portion of these payments were embezzled by Sicari as fraudulent kickbacks.

— Current General Manager Richard Hopper was allegedly aware of the embezzlement, and told Hawkins to “never question Mr. Sicari about certain budget items” that included excessive payments to the vendor.

— On multiple occasions, Hawkins reported the ongoing nature of the embezzlement scheme to proper authorities, to no avail.

— And this included within the organization. When HSW announced the intention of laying off certain employees because of budgetary issues, Hawkins asked Sicari, in front of Hopper, to not lay off employees before the upcoming holiday. Sicari, in response, complained about the budget, and Hawkins said openly to “stop paying money to the vendor-conspirator.”

— During a meeting attended by all management and supervisors, Sicari complained to Hawkins about the budget, to which Hawkins said HSW should look at specific budget item lines. These were identified by line numbers, ones Hopper said not to mention. Hopper visibly reacted by “tensing his body,” and Sicari acknowledged the understanding of import and immediately changed the subject.

Hawkins testifies that, in retaliation of his reports of embezzling, Sicari “encouraged” him to use his “comp time” after his Princeton home was destroyed, with wife Angie inside, during the December 2021 tornado. All the while, Sicari was simultaneously taking advantage of Hawkins’ resulting absences to disparage, demote, and constructively terminate him.

Among the many facts presented by Hawkins and Shephard is that:

— Each plaintiff worked as a commercial equipment operator III before being promoted to supervisors.
— However, as supervisors, neither had actual authority, and instead just hauled garbage and garbage containers without proper work classifications between hourly and salary designations.
— Sicari, Hopper and HR Director Jenny Delawson made clear that “only upper management” had the authority to make hiring and firing decisions, and that decisions like this would be made without weight/recommendations of supervisors.
— HSW failed to record the amount of time Hawkins and Shephard worked, either by timeclock or otherwise, during the period of time plaintiffs were employed as “supervisors.”
— And the plaintiffs generally worked 10 or more overtime hours a week, with true compensatory times not equal.
— As of January 2, 2022, Hawkins had accrued more than 1,600 hours.

Sicari was a celebrated retiree in October 2022. Hawkins opened the suit that November, and Shephard joined in May 2023.

A civil suit only provides factual information from one testament.

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