An Ascension Parish construction and architectural company owner admitted Thursday to shorting 150 workers more than $240,000 in overtime pay over a three-year period and then trying to obstruct a federal probe into the underpayments, prosecutors said.

Michael L. Langston Jr., 47,  admitted that he and an employee at his direction twice supplied U.S. Department of Labor investigators with altered payroll and wage records to hide the true numbers, identities and wages of his workers, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baton Rouge said in a statement. 

Langston, of St. Amant, is the owner of two Gonzales businesses, Langston Construction and Composite Architectural Design Systems. Prosecutors said Langston employed dozens of workers at construction sites around the country but, by not paying them time-and-a-half for overtime, he withheld $240,388.21 from his workers between August 2013 and August 2016.  

As part of his plea before U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick, Langston admitted the underpayments and obstruction were done, in part, because he was concerned about the immigration status of many of his workers.

He also agreed to make full restitution to his employees but could still face as much as five years in prison for the obstruction count and six months for the willful failure to pay count, the plea agreement says.

The Department of Labor opened a civil investigation into Langston's pay practices in January 2016.

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