A St. Mary’s County resident is claiming he is not getting paid for construction work he has done at the new sheriff’s office substation in Lexington Park.
Rainbow Construction Corp. of Waldorf in 2018 was awarded a contract of over $3 million to convert the old Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad building, located at 21633 Great Mills Road, into the new District 4 sheriff’s office.
St. Mary’s government bought the 17,327-square-foot property in 2014 for $450,000 after the rescue squad moved into a new building nearby.
When completed, the sheriff’s office substation will include processing, meeting and conference room space, three holding cells, two interview rooms, a roll call and training room, break room, evidence bay and storage area.
Rainbow Construction has hired several subcontractors, including TSCG Drywall and Painting, a company based in Edgewater and owned by Frank Marceron.
Marceron signed a contract with Rainbow and agreed to give them a discount of at least $20,000, in exchange for biweekly payments, since they were also doing work for the company at a fire department in Anne Arundel County, according to Marceron.
Ross Throne, an hourly employee for TSCG, contacted the St. Mary’s commissioners by email on Oct. 7 to ask for help after, according to him, he had been denied payment for over two months of construction work on the new sheriff’s office.
Throne was hired for the project in August. After two weeks, TSCG received one check for $5,950 from Rainbow, according to Marceron.
Marceron paid Throne out of pocket for his work after the first two weeks, he said. When Marceron did not receive any payment from Rainbow after the fourth week, he told Throne to stop showing up to the site, anticipating future issues with payment.
“My boss [Marceron] told me that the company was refusing to pay … everything was guaranteed to my employees. We worked diligently to get things done,” Throne said. Throne had brought on several men to help him with the job.
A representative from Rainbow said they have paid all of their contracts accordingly.
Throne and Marceron said they spoke directly with Mark Guadagnoli, executive vice president of Rainbow, on several occasions. A meeting was held on Sept. 16 between Rainbow and TSCG employees to discuss the payment issues. During this meeting, Guadagnoli verbally guaranteed Throne that he would be provided with back pay and will continue to get paid for his work if he stayed on the job, according to Marceron, who advised against it.
“Mark did not honor our contract. These [construction workers] are trying to pay their rent, their grocery bills, and they are not getting paid,” Marceron said, adding that Rainbow’s reasoning behind the delayed payment was that they cannot pay TSCG more until percentages are approved by the architect.
Despite this warning, Throne stayed on the site to help Rainbow finish the project, with a promise that all amounts owed by Rainbow would be caught up by the end of that week.
After almost three months of work, Throne, along with other employees on the job, still did not receive their paychecks, he said.
Rainbow failed to compensate as promised and since then, Guadagnoli has not responded to phone calls or emails, according to Throne.
“I started pressing against commissioners but this county doesn’t seem to care about us. … We’ve contacted everyone in the department of labor. Governor [Larry] Hogan passed a law in 2018 that speaks clear about general contractors paying subcontractors. The county is telling us that it’s between us and Rainbow,” Marceron said.
Marceron is referring to a bill that addresses labor and employment in the state, specifically general contractor liability for unpaid wages.
“If an employer fails to pay an employee … after two weeks have elapsed from the date on which the employer is required to have paid the wages, the employee may bring an action against the employer to recover the unpaid wages … the court may award the employee an amount not exceeding three times the wage, and reasonable counsel fees and other costs,” according to the 2018 bill.
“Other contractors are being cheated out of money, too. There’s nothing left to do but go to the [state’s] labor board,” Throne said.
When asked about the payment situation, Guadagnoli said that they always pay subcontractors in accordance with their contracts.
“Frank [Marceron] hasn’t paid … we have had no other complaints from other subcontractors. TSCG is not the strongest subcontractor we have on the project,” Guadagnoli said last week in a phone interview.
After pushing Rainbow representatives and the county for payment, Throne was eventually banned from the sheriff’s office construction site, with Marceron being banned soon after.
“We were banned for no good reason. We did all the work. … The only choice is to go legal and spend $20,000 in legal fees to collect about $30,000. Subs like me are being burned all the time,” Marceron said.
The sheriff’s office directed inquiries about the situation to the county’s finance department.
“The county awarded Rainbow the contract in October 2018. TSCG was contracted by Rainbow in April for metal, framing and drywall work. Based on information given to us by Rainbow and information we have on file, we know that some payments have been made. Really, this is between Rainbow and TSCG,” Jeannett Cudmore, chief finance officer for the county, said.
“This seems to be a quarrel between the prime and the sub[contractors]. It’s their business, not mine,” Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said of the matter, suggesting that there is not much the county can do to intervene since the contract is between the two companies.
The construction for the new sheriff’s office substation was originally scheduled for completion in November, but has been pushed back until March of next year.