NEWARK, N.J. — The owner of a Somerset County, N.J., construction company has pleaded guilty to one count of felony perjury brought by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey after an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In exchange for the guilty plea, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey sentenced Robert Riley of Far Hills, New Jersey — owner of RSR Home Construction LLC — to two years of probation and fined him $5,500 for lying under oath during an investigation that began in May 2018.
OSHA initiated the investigation after two RSR Home Construction employees suffered serious injuries after falling through an unguarded skylight while making roof repairs. In administrative proceedings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the company agreed to affirm citations and a $50,000 penalty for one willful and three serious violations for lack of fall protection and other safety deficiencies.
In a sworn deposition taken during OSHA’s investigation, Riley testified under oath that he never instructed or authorized anyone to perform work on the roofs. However, Riley’s text messages to construction workers revealed he directed a worker to begin repairs on the roof of the barn structure where the injuries occurred.
“Our collaboration with U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey helped to hold Robert Riley legally accountable for giving false information in a federal investigation,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York in a written statement. “This successful outcome shows that the U.S. Department of Labor will use all appropriate and available legal tools to ensure that employers abide by the law.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey prosecuted the case, with assistance from OSHA’s Area Office in Parsippany, New Jersey, and the department’s Office of Inspector General and the New York Regional Office of the Solicitor of Labor, which also litigated the administrative citation case before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
“We commend our federal partners for their cooperation in the prosecution of this case,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson, in New York. “Employers must understand that misleading a federal investigator is a serious mistake. We remind all employers that they have a responsibility to provide fall protection and other necessary precautions to ensure a safe and healthful workplace.”