CHICAGO — The Illinois Worker’s Compensation (IWCC), in conjunction with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, has secured the first felony conviction for failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance.
Mr. Ahmed Ghosien, d/b/a Ghosien European Auto Werks, refused to comply with Illinois law despite having been given several opportunities to become compliant. After aggressive enforcement efforts, on July 25, 2013, Mr. Ghosien entered a guilty plea to the Class 4 felony (People v. Ahmed Ghosien, 12 CR 20949). This is the first felony conviction against an employer for failure to obtain workers’ compensation insurance since the penalty increase, from a misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony, was introduced in 2005 and remained a critical part of Gov. Quinn’s reforms to the Worker’s Compensation Act in 2011.
“Employers who refuse to obtain workers’ compensation insurance put their employees at risk, gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors, and ultimately shift the cost of their business to Illinois taxpayers,” said Michael P. Latz, Chairman, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. “I commend the diligence of our investigators and this cooperative effort to help protect workers.”
Mr. Ghosien operates a large European auto repair shop at 4001 1/2 Southwest Highway, in Hometown, Illinois. IWCC found that Mr. Ghosien had never obtained workers’ compensation insurance for mechanics working at the repair shop. IWCC served Mr. Ghosien a Notice of Non-Compliance in March, 2010 and on April 16, 2010, he secured the required insurance. IWCC also issued a fine for non-compliance against Mr. Ghosien, who signed a settlement agreement on July 13, 2010 agreeing to pay a fine amount of $25,000. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, he was to pay his fine at the rate of $5,000 per month for five months starting August, 2010.
However, Mr. Ghosien failed to make any of the agreed upon payments. Additionally, Mr. Ghosien’s workers’ compensation insurance was cancelled in December 2011 for non-payment of premium. Despite the IWCC’s numerous attempts to bring Mr. Ghosein into compliance, he refused to get workers’ compensation insurance or pay his fine to the Commission. Mr. Ghosien finally secured a new workers’ compensation policy in February, 2013, but only after he learned of the criminal indictment.
The IWCC’s Insurance Compliance Unit, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Special Prosecutions Division worked together to secure a felony indictment against Mr. Ghosien on November 7, 2012, for violation of 820 ILCS 305/4(d). The case was continued several times. On July 25, 2013, Mr. Ghosien entered a guilty plea to the Class 4 felony. Mr. Ghosien is required to return to court in October 2013 for sentencing, pursuant to the plea agreement and to pay a fine of $25,000.