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Jail Time For Owner Of Brooklyn Tortilla Factory Where Worker Died

Erasmo Ponce Admitted To Illegal Business Practices
Courtroom/File (Photo: CBS 2)

Courtroom/File (Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The owner of a Brooklyn tortilla factory where a worker died in a dough mixing machine was hit with a 90-day jail sentence Monday.

Erasmo Ponce was sentenced after pleading guilty last June to underpaying staffers, falsifying records and violating workers’ compensation laws.

On Jan. 24, 2011, Juan Baten, a Guatemalan immigrant who worked at Ponce’s Tortilleria Chinantla in Bushwick, died when he was sucked inside the dough mixer, according to a New York Times report.

Police were called to the scene at around 2:30 a.m. that day. When they arrived, they discovered the 22-year-old victim had fallen inside the waist-high machine.

The death caught the attention of state regulators, who discovered the labor violations.

The factory was shut down by the state after the discovery that the factory had operated without workers’ compensation insurance for more than a year, the newspaper reported.

In addition to Monday’s jail sentence, Ponce was ordered to pay nearly $450,000 in restitution.

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