Owner of Tortilla Factory Where Worker Died Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail

By Meredith Hoffman on July 8, 2013 4:49pm 

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 Erasmo Ponce was sentenced to 90 days in prison for labor laws and workman's compensation violations.
Tortilleria Chinantla
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — The owner of a tortilla factory whose 22-year-old worker died caught in its dough mixer in 2011 has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for labor law and workers' compensation violations, officials announced.

Tortilleria Chinantla's owner Erasmo Ponce — who pled guilty last year to wage and insurance violations after immigrant worker Juan Baten died leaving behind his baby daughter and girlfriend in dire financial straits — also had to pay nearly $450,000 in restitution both to Baten's daughter and to the Workman's Compensation Board.

He must serve a total 90 days in Rikers Island, Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Alexander Jeong ordered Monday, and will serve his sentence on weekends, sources said. Ponce failed to pay workers' compensation insurance and overtime wages to his staff, officials said.

“All of our labor laws — minimum wage laws, the workers’ compensation law, safety and health laws — exist to protect vulnerable workers and ensure a basic safety net of protection," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office investigated the case. “My office will use all tools at our disposal, including criminal charges where appropriate, to seek justice for New York's workers and their families.”

Ponce did not immediately respond to calls requesting comment.

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