Refuse a DOL subpoena, go straight to jail

The owner of GT Drywall in Chino Hills, California, spent some time behind bars after a federal judge tired of his delaying tactics in an ongoing wage-and-hour investigation. Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division asked the judge to intervene after Gary Tetone refused to provide materials that had been subpoenaed.

Law enforcement officers arrested Tetone in February. He was eventually cut loose, but only after the judge ordered him to provide all subpoenaed documents within 14 days and meet with WHD investigators as many times as they deemed necessary within the next 28 days.

Tetone and his company incurred $48,000 in contempt penalties and $5,200 in attorney’s fees during the delay he created. At one point, he lied to officials attempting to serve a subpoena by telling him he was Tetone’s “pool guy.” Contempt fines in cases like this pile up at $500 per day.

Note: Jerking around federal investigators is generally not good form. The law is on their side. Courts are more than willing to tack on contempt fines to the amounts already owed.