SANTA ROSA -- State labor regulators are barring Santa Rosa-based S.J. Cimino Electric Inc. from public works projects for three years on allegations that the electrical contractor didn't fully pay wages and benefits related to three affordable-housing projects in Sonoma and Solano counties. This is said to be the first such action against a Sonoma County contractor in more than a decade.

The decision makes S.J. Cimino ineligible to bid nor work as a subcontractor on public projects, according to state documents. Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Chief Angela Bradstreet signed the debarment on Sept. 2 after an Aug. 4 hearing, according to the documents. The debarment becomes effective Oct. 15.

The findings presented at the hearing involved S.J. Cimino's work as subcontractor on The Crossings at Santa Rosa from April to June 2007, Cottonwood Creek Apartments in Suisun City from June 2007 to July 2008 and Jennings Avenue Apartments in Santa Rosa from September 2006 to August 2007.

Allegations in state documents included failing to pay prevailing wages and overtime, not maintaining accurate certified payroll records and deducting benefits such as health care and pension from pay but not passing that money to a plan provider.

S.J. Cimino owner Salvadore "Sam" Cimino nor his representatives attended the August hearing. He didn't return a call Wednesday for comment on the debarment.

Debarments are rare, but Ms. Bradstreet has been actively pursuing investigations since she was appointed labor commissioner in July 2007, according to a department spokeswoman. This is the ninth such action since then.

"When we come across companies willfully flouting the law we pursue action," Department of Industrial Relations spokeswoman Erica Monterroza said.

This case is unique in a lot of ways, according to Pat Wirsing, senior compliance officer for the Northern California Electrical Construction Industry. The group was part of a North Bay Labor Council press conference at the State Building in Santa Rosa this morning to announce the debarment.

"Usually a worker reports wage issues to us and we investigate," Mr. Wirsing said.

The total wages at issue was estimated to be $167,000 for 22 workers. About $90,000 in wages and penalties had been by the time of the debarment, according to NCECI and state records.

An official with IBEW Local 551 in Santa Rosa reported the S.J. Cimino allegations to the NCECI, which passed its investigations to the state Department of Industrial Relations. Concord-based NCECI keeps tabs compliance with labor law and is backed by the National Electrical Contractors Association trade group and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

At the press conference, a recording was played of a phone message left by someone identifying himself as Mr. Cimino, expressing anger at a letter the NCECI sent to customers.