Kenneth Ivan Winters, 40, of Lakewood, Washington pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of doing business without workers’ compensation insurance and a felony count of false reporting by an employer, according to the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy ordered Winters to serve 364 days in jail, but suspended it as long as he has no more criminal violations. He also must serve one year on probation, pay more than $4,500 in restitution and perform 240 hours of community service.
According to the original charging papers, authorities were alerted to the case when a longtime employee was injured while working for Winters’ business, Executive Lawn Care, in October 2012.
The worker told a Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigator that Winters threatened him and his family if he filed a claim with L&I, charging papers said. The employee, however, filed a claim with L&I, which provided him more than $67,000 in medical and wage-replacement benefits.
Coverage Revoked for Non-Payment
Winters’ workers’ compensation coverage had been revoked eight months earlier for failing to pay premiums. Winters told an L&I investigator that business had slowed and he had to lay off all his employees, except for the injured worker and part-time help.
“It’s unacceptable and illegal for a business owner to refuse to pay workers’ comp insurance and threaten an employee over filing a workplace injury claim. It should never happen,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards.
“In addition, if employers are having trouble paying workers’ comp, we will work with them, if they contact us early on,” she added.