Dozens unemployed as Delaware business shuts down

Watch report from Action News
December 12, 2013 3:06:06 PM PST
Dozens of local people are out of jobs and without paychecks just weeks before Christmas.

A real estate business in Delaware has closed its doors with virtually no warning, leaving dozens unemployed and fearful they won't receive the back pay they are owed.

"This whole situation is messed up," says Autumn McCracken. "He's heartless, that's what he is. He's heartless, and he's greedy."

The employees are talking about 53-year-old Charles W. Smith, CEO and founder of Newark-based eShowings, which set up home showings for realtors.

"We actually call him the Grinch that stole Christmas," said Kia Cale.

"He stole my son's Christmas. I have layaways that I have to get out tomorrow; a $300 layaway with no paychecks," said Deven Lum.

According to court documents, the 14-year-old company employed 180 people in Delaware and North Carolina.

eShowings employees we talked to say they are owed back pay, and on Tuesday the company suddenly closed its doors.

Meantime, Smith just started serving a 30-month prison sentence for keeping employee payroll taxes instead of giving the money to the IRS.

At his sentencing hearing, the court noted Smith had spent his employee's money on vacations, gambling, a pontoon boat, and other personal expenses.

And court documents reveal Smith has a criminal history, including convictions of sexually assaulting children and DUIs.

"The company was crumbling. There were more bounced checks coming more often," said Cale.

"We've had multiple check cashing places - Acme, Walmart, they refused to cash our checks because they are thinking we're cashing bad checks," said Lum.

Employees say they are also wondering whether there is any money in their 401K and insurance accounts.

"They had been taken out of our checks weekly, but they had not been getting paid. So the owner of the company has been pocketing that as well," said Cale.

Employees also say while they were let go and told there were no funds to pay them, an employee provided a bank statement from an eShowings' account that shows nearly $30,000 withdrawn on Wednesday.

"I don't have a significant other to help out. I'm struggling," said McCracken. "I just moved into a new place. It's bad. It's really bad."

Smith's attorney was contacted but simply said he had no comment.

So what can these former employees do - and what can YOU do if you're having a paycheck problem?

File a wage complaint with your state's Labor Department. You can also file a claim against your employer in small claims court.

If the company has no money - you have to pursue action as a creditor in bankruptcy court.

The former employees of eShowings have set up a Facebook page.

Link:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/460303874081604/


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