CARS HOMES JOBS

State fines Llenroc owner in workers’ comp case

Board said George did not have insurance

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
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Annie George and her attorney, Mark Sacco, walk into the Federal Courthouse in Albany for George's sentencing July 9.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Annie George and her attorney, Mark Sacco, walk into the Federal Courthouse in Albany for George's sentencing July 9.

— Annie George, the widow sentenced to home confinement for harboring an illegal immigrant in her opulent Rexford home, is now facing a six-figure penalty for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

The state Workers’ Compensation Board assessed the 41-year-old owner of the Llenroc mansion $132,000 in penalties resulting from her failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance between August 2011 and June 2013. The demand from the board was determined to be in default this month, prompting a judgment to be filed against George in Saratoga County on Tuesday.

It’s unclear what business George owns that would require her to have workers’ compensation insurance. A spokeswoman for the board did not return a call Wednesday afternoon. Attempts to reach an attorney who represented George in her criminal case were unsuccessful.

George is the widower of Mathai Kolath George, who owned a business that operated six hotels in New York and out of state. Her husband died, along with one of their sons, after the Piper Cherokee airplane he was piloting plunged into the Mohawk River in June 2009.

Following her husband’s death, George learned many of his business exploits were failing. All were buried in mortgages and debts, eventually leaving only two that remained open under her control.

The collapse of George’s finances after her husband’s death was a focal point of her defense to charges she harbored an illegal immigrant from India and forced her to work as a housekeeper under slave-like conditions at Llenroc. Valsamma Mathai lived with the family for more than five years at the mansion and later told federal prosecutors she was subjected to 17-hour workdays with no time off.

The woman later indicated she earned about $24,000 during her five-year stint with the family, despite being promised a salary of $1,000 per month. She was taken from the home in May 2011 by government agents, after her concerned son reported her working conditions to a human trafficking hotline.

George was indicted on federal charges of harboring an illegal immigrant and harboring an illegal immigrant for financial gain. During her March trial in U.S. District Court, she claimed she never knew Mathai’s immigration status until after authorities removed her from Llenroc. She also said Mathai was treated like a member of the family, not a servant.

Jurors ultimately exonerated her of the more serious of the two charges, but she was still convicted of harboring an illegal immigrant, a charge that garnered her a sentence of eight months’ home confinement.

George also stands to lose Llenroc once her confinement there ends. A federal judge ordered the palatial mansion on the banks of the Mohawk River seized as compensation in lieu of a fine in the case.

George is still facing federal action in a lawsuit filed against her by Choice Hotels International in February. The action relates to unpaid franchise fees and trademarks used at a now-closed motel in Fultonville the woman inherited from her late husband.

Choice Hotels entered into a franchise agreement with a group owned by George’s husband in November 2005, but two years after his death, the group was behind $15,000 in franchise payments. Choice Hotels then demanded that money and the remaining $26,000 owed under the agreement, but the motel had been closed and condemned.

Attorneys for Choice Hotels moved for summary judgement in July. The motion is now pending in federal court.

 
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