Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued a Viking Lakes siding contractor Tuesday for allegedly intimidating workers and obstructing the state's investigation into wage theft complaints that surfaced during the building of a large apartment complex in Eagan.

The state's Department of Labor, which investigates wage theft complaints, until Tuesday had declined to confirm that an investigation was taking place.

The lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court accuses Leopoldo "Leo" Pimentel Jr. and his two Twin Cities companies — Property Maintenance & Construction LLC and Property Maintenance & Construction Inc. (PMC) — of interfering with the Labor Department's investigation. Calls to PMC for comment were blocked by the companies.

Pimentel not only has failed to cooperate but "is actively trying to throw wrenches into the gears," Ellison said in announcing the lawsuit. He said labor investigators have been seeking information from the companies for more than four months and that the companies have "sought to delay and impede [the investigation] at every step."

PMC employees, some of whom were unauthorized immigrants, complained they were paid in cash off the books and were regularly denied overtime pay that was required by law, despite being required to work 10-hour days, six days a week. It is estimated that more than $100,000 in back wages is due to the workers, Ellison said.

In addition, the employees said PMC did not pay all that was due in workers' compensation, unemployment and payroll taxes. The lawsuit states it failed to keep required employment records and repeatedly failed to turn over requested worker payroll documents to the state.

The company, according to the complaint, then intimidated and threatened workers from cooperating with state investigators and cut work hours for employees who did cooperate.

PMC was a subcontractor on the 200-acre Viking Lakes project in Eagan, doing drywall work. It worked at 18 other construction sites around the metro area between 2019 and 2022, the lawsuit said.

Complaints began surfacing in November 2020. The lawsuit said the state has been investigating PMC since at least March.

In May, employees who worked on the Viking Lakes site joined two groups — Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha and the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters — to publicly talk about the alleged illegal wage practices. Soon after that, threats were allegedly made to at least three workers, prompting them to quit, the lawsuit said.

Officials at MV Ventures — the Viking Lakes development company owned by the Wilf family, which also owns the Minnesota Vikings — said in an email that it has not been involved in any state investigation into PMC.

"We have not been contacted by the attorney general or the Department of Labor and Industry," said MV Ventures Construction Vice President Gary Gleason. "As we have consistently said, we fully support an investigation and will cooperate if any information is required from MV Ventures."

Gleason said previously that neither PMC nor a separate subcontractor named Absolute Drywall had been selected to work on the next phase of the Viking Lakes construction project.

The lawsuit is asking the court to impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000 and to order PMC to turn over employment records and to stop violating Minnesota's labor laws.