The owner of a tortilla factory where an employee died in a gruesome dough-mixer accident will serve 90 days in jail and pay nearly a half million dollars in restitution for failing to pay for workers’ compensation insurance or pay his other employees for overtime.
Erasmo Ponce, the owner of Tortilleria Chinantla Inc., a corn tortilla factory on Grand Street in Williamsburg, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of workers’ compensation law.
State police arrested Ponce in March 2012 for failing to pay for workers’ compensation, charges related to the January 2011 accident that led to the death of Juan Baten, a 22-year-old Guatemalan immigrant worker who fell into a giant dough mixer and was crushed.
In addition to the jail term, Ponce was ordered to pay $447,943.11 in restitution. Of that money, $300,000 went to the Workers Compensation Board to reimburse the agency for a payment made to Baten’s daughter. Another $138,000 went to the New York State Department of Labor to cover overtime pay that Ponce never paid to his 28 employees from 2006 to 2011. The remaining $9,943.11 went to unpaid unemployment insurance taxes.
He was not charged in the death of the worker.
Workers at the factory declined to comment.Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@c