A Utah video game developer has been sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay at least $1.2 million for withholding wages from employees in what Utah’s attorney general called the state’s first criminal prosecution for nonpayment of wages.
David M. Rushton, 57, was sentenced Oct. 10 for a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, a third-degree felony count of attempted unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary and a class A misdemeanor count of a payment-of-wages violation.
“This is significant because it is the first criminal prosecution in Utah and involved more than $2 million in unpaid wages,” Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in a statement.
In 2005, Rushton started the video game development company Sensory Sweep Studio, which later became known as Fooptube LLC after the original business got into financial trouble, according to the AG’s office. Those businesses employed as many as 211 employees and developed video games that included “Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005,” “Justice League Heroes” and “Jackass: The Game.”
Nearly half of the staff — 95 employees — filed wage claims with the Utah Labor commission in 2009. After investigating, the commission referred the matter to the AG’s office.
“Although Rushton’s jail sentence does not compensate the claimants for the wages they are owed, this brings a certain measure of justice,” said Utah Labor Commissioner Sherrie Hayashi.
An investigation in 2010 by the Utah Tax Commission resulted in Rushton being sentenced to 18 months in jail and ordered to pay $516,816 for tax fraud and the nonpayment of income and withholding taxes.