Posted: 3:27 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

Wages may be gambled away while workers not paid

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Randall Goins
Randall Goins

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By Consumer Investigator Amy Clancy

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. —

KIRO 7 Consumer Investigators have learned that Snohomish County business owner Randall Goins deliberately and intentionally steals workers' wages.  Meanwhile, his unpaid employees tell investigative reporter Amy Clancy that Goins lives “high off the hog.”

 

According to Washington State Department of Labor and Industry officials, Goins is pretty good at hiding his assets.  However, Clancy found Goins doesn’t hide his living large lifestyle.  Online, he flaunts his cars, cash, diamonds, gambling habits and more. 

 

Former Goins employees, like Lawrence Anderson, tell Clancy that despite the money apparently rolling in to Goins debt collection business, they don’t see any of it. 

 

“We made money for him,” Anderson claims.  “We had payments set that he was still getting.  Yet he has not paid us.”

 

http://bcove.me/xzrcj7v2

 

Goins is the owner and president of Investment Management and Recovery Inc. of Mountlake Terrace.  Anderson says Goins owes him at least $700 for two weeks of debt collection work he did last year.  Anderson's wage complaint is in addition to at least 27 others filed against Goins since 2009; while Goins headed-up Investment Management and Recovery Inc., and four of his former companies, including Green Tree Acquisitions and Reliant Recoveries.

 

The Department of Labor and Industries investigated each claim and ordered Goins to hand over more than $34,000 in unpaid wages. 

 

“We don’t see cases that are this complex, and for all intents and purposes, this is deliberate,” Liz Smith, the Program Manager for L&I’s Employment Standards division tells Clancy.  “It appears to be a deliberate attempt for him to have people work for him in his businesses and then to frankly steal their wages,” says Smith.

 

Clancy:  “Not pay them?”

 

Smith:  “Not pay them.”

 

Despite orders from the state to pay, Goins still has not.

 

Another former employee, who did not want to be identified, claims Goins owes him/her nearly $2,000.  This former employee, who worked for Goins nearly a year and a half, offers Clancy an explanation why Goins might not be paying.

 

Clancy: “What did people think he was doing with the money that they earned?”


Former employee:  “Gambling it away, and partying.”

 

Clancy:  “He is possibly gambling with the wages he should be paying his employees?”

 

Former employee:  “Most definitely.”

 

In fact, Goins has posted online many pictures of trips to Las Vegas, his casino VIP passes, winnings, and pool parties.   His business currently occupies much of the second floor of a spacious Mountlake Terrace office building.  Yet, according to the state, Goins still has not paid his own brother more than $7,000.

 

The former employee who asked not to be identified because of fear of Goins describes a typical payday at Goins’ company: “It was every payday.  Everybody was talking, ‘are we going to get paid today?’  There was quite a bit of anger and violence around the office when the paychecks were not good.”

 

Clancy:  “Violence?  What kind of violence?”

 

Former employee:  “People trying to force their way back to his office.  There were threats of violence against him, and it was scary.”

 

Clancy:  “How did Goins handle that?”

 

Former employee:  “He hid.”

 

Lawrence Anderson tells Clancy that Goins also hid the last time Anderson visited the company's office to collect his $700.  Anderson claims Goins called the police, and then left the office.  He showed Clancy the Mountlake Terrace Police Department document that now prevents Anderson from visiting his former workplace: “This is the criminal trespass notice I got from the last time I went to demand my check in December.”  Anderson further explains his frustration: “I’m there demanding payment.  The law’s the law.  Well, Randall’s breaking the law.  Where’s the justice in that?”

 

Goins is no stranger to the justice system.  According to court documents uncovered by KIRO 7 , Goins spent 7 years in prison for shooting a man in 1994.  According to Snohomish County court documents: Goins “with intent to inflict great bodily harm, did assault another person … with a firearm and any deadly weapon and by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death, to-wit: .22 caliber rifle.”

 

“I wish I’d known that before accepting that job,” the fearful former employee tells Clancy.

 

Something that is well-known to Goins' former employees, as well as to L&I investigators; when the heat gets too hot, Goins simply closes his current debt collection business and opens another.

 

Clancy to L&I’s Liz Smith:  "How is it possible for someone to open business after business, just changing the name but keeping the same practice of not paying employees?  How is that possible?"

 

Liz Smith: “He’s an officer in all of these companies.  They all have a different UBI number, or Uniform Business Identifier, and that, I’m aware, that’s something he’s allowed to do under the law is start a new business.  When one business gets clouded and pursued under the law, then he starts a new business.  And that’s something that’s made it a bit of a struggle to follow his businesses, and to figure out where he is now.  But we’re going to follow Mr. Goins and we’re going to attempt to get these wages that he has stolen from these employees.”

 

And KIRO 7 will be watching to see what happens.

 

Meanwhile, during Clancy’s investigation, the former employees she interviewed also revealed that Randall Goins and many of his debt collection employees apparently overstep their legal bounds.

 

The former employees claim it's common for Goins and his workers to yell at, intimidate, threaten and harass debtors.  They also claim Goins and his employees impersonate attorneys, hoping the bogus threat of legal action will get people to pay up; all tactics that concern Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna.

 

“The tactics you’ve described are illegal,” he tells Clancy.  “State law specifically prohibits representing that the debt collector is part of law enforcement, prohibits the use of badges, of uniforms.  And no threats may be permitted.” 

 

McKenna also says debtors should ask for written proof before paying any alleged debt, because it may not even be theirs, especially if the debt has been on the books for longer than 6 years.                                                                          

 

For more information about what debt collectors can and cannot do, and what you should do before making a payment to anyone who contacts you from a debt collection company, visit:

 

www.atg.wa.gov/uploadedFiles/Home/Safeguarding_Consumers/Brochures/December_08_Updates/debt_collection_repo_12-08.pdf

 

For the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:  www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf

 

FTC’s annual complaint summary:  www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/02/2011complaints.shtm

 

For more Fair Debt Collection information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s link at:  www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpajump.shtm

 

Clancy tried to get Goins’ side of the story.  Despite multiple phone calls and emails to Goins seeking comment, Clancy never received a response.

 

To check out a potential employers’ wage-paying record in Washington State, visit:  fortress.wa.gov/lni/eces/Default.aspx 

 

For Clancy’s tips on how to be a careful job-hunter, click on the video, below:

 

http://bcove.me/ya1cssae

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