HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A Hampton businessman is sitting behind bars for not paying his employees what they are owed. The government is holding David Merryman in contempt until he repays more than $45,000 — and they believe he owes more than that.

Trevor Tanner told WAVY he did a job for Merryman Grounds Maintenance back in January plowing snow. He expected a $1,500 paycheck — instead, he took home $400.

“At one point in time, he gave me a $1,000 check to go cash. The lady at the bank told me ‘No I can’t do it just because of who it is,'” Tanner said.

Other employees have been stiffed as well — and for years — according to the Department of Labor.

“He wasn’t paying his employees minimum wage or overtime,” trial Attorney Angela France told WAVY.

France says the Department of Labor first filed action against Merryman in 2014. The case was resolved, but then she said Merryman did it again and again. In 2019, they brought a civil contempt charge against him, requiring Merryman to pay employees and produce payroll records.

Click here to subscribe to WAVY’s Daily Newsletter emails.

“Just because the employer does not keep the records does not mean they’re off the hook,” France said.

Merryman got dragged back into court at the end of 2021 and now sits in jail until he finishes paying what he owes and turns over his bank account and other documents as required by the court.

The attorney doesn’t know yet how much cash Merryman has in the bank but said “He has considerable properties located in the Hampton, Newport News area.”

In fact, he has 36 residential properties. We know that from former Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who gave those details in a news release when he filled a fair housing lawsuit against Merryman last fall. Herring alleged Merryman showed “an alarming pattern of abusive, racist, sexist, and otherwise unlawful behavior.”

Turns out the landlord also had trouble with tenants for years. We went back into the WAVY archives and found a story from 2008 when a woman called 10 On Your Side for help after Merryman blocked the entrance to her business with a huge concrete block over a dispute concerning unpaid electrical work.

BELOW: 2008 story: Hampton business struggles with landlord issues.

That was 14 years ago. It leaves Tanner to doubt he’ll ever see that money.

“I told him I hope he rots where he’s at,” Tanner said.

France said as of Thursday afternoon, Merryman still owes over $5,000 on that court order. If he pays, she said they will be OK with him being released on ankle monitoring while the labor department investigates others who are owed money.

If you have any information regarding Merryman Grounds Maintenance Inc. or are a former or current employee of the company, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the Wage and Hour Division’s Richmond District Office at (804) 771-2995.