An employer was convicted of a felony for failing to obtain workers’ compensation insurance, a first in the state of Illinois. The felony conviction was secured by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, the Special Prosecution Division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Ahmed Ghosien, doing business as Ghosien European Auto Werks, entered a guilty plea to a Class 4 felony. According to the state, Ghosien refused to comply with the legal requirement to obtain workers’ compensation insurance after many opportunities and aggressive enforcement action against him.
The penalty for failure to obtain insurance was increased from a misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony in 2005, and the current case is the first felony conviction secured for the offense in Illinois.
Michael P. Latz, chairman of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, said that employers who fail to obtain the insurance put workers at risk and compete unfairly against companies that follow the law. He said that such employers ultimately shift their business costs to Illinois taxpayers.
According to the IWCC, Ghosien operates an auto repair shop in Hometown, Illinois, and failed to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for the mechanics who work there. In 2010, he was fined and briefly obtained insurance. However, Ghosien did not pay all of the fine or the insurance premium, and a criminal indictment was issued.