Kingsbridge Heights nursing home owner arrested
By N. Clark Judd
Helen Sieger, 55, owner of Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation and Care Center on Cannon Place, was arrested for failing to provide workers' compensation insurance to her 400-plus employees between May 31, 2007 and June 26, 2008, according to the statement. Under a new law that went into effect last year, employers who fail to provide such insurance to more than five employees are guilty of a class "E" felony, punishable by up to four years in prison. This is the first arrest under this law, the statement said.
"Today's arrest should send a strong message: Employers who think they can wait until they get caught before getting workers' compensation insurance are in for a rude awakening," Mr. Cuomo said in the statement. "Any employer trying to cheat workers and the state by failing to have workers' compensation insurance will be held accountable by my office."
Previously, the state Workers' Compensation Board forced Ms. Sieger to start providing the insurance and to pay a $38,000 fine.
The arrest was good news for members of 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East, who worked at the home. They have been on strike outside the home since February and without health benefits since November 2007, after Ms. Sieger ceased paying into their benefits funds in August.
"The prosecution of Kingsbridge Heights Care Center owner Helen Sieger for failure to secure workers' compensation insurance is a tremendous victory for workers all across New York state," union President George Gresham said in a statement. "Workers' compensation is a critical labor safeguard and failure to insure workers is an egregious and irresponsible act. If workers
"It is about time that someone has enforced the law," Philip McDonnell, president of Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association — members of which have been fixtures on the picket line — wrote in an e-mail. "What good are laws if nobody enforces them or owners of these facilities can skirt their way around them?"
Nursing home staff referred a call for comment to Steven Johnson of Kennedy Johnson Gallagher LLC, who did not immediately return the call.