Dr. Phillips' area restaurant owner charged in workers' comp case

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Orange County restaurant owner is facing felony charges because investigators say she didn't carry workers' compensation insurance.
 

The owner of Greek Flame Taverna, in the Doctor Phillips' area, was arrested as she came back into the country from a trip abroad.
 
Channel 9's Jeff Deal learned that this isn't the first time investigators said she didn't have coverage for employees.
 
According to investigators, even after the restaurant was issued a stop-work order, Maria Chrissanthidis kept the business open another month before getting workers' compensation insurance for employees.
 
"In this case, they did not have workers' compensation coverage on their employees," said Detective Jan Cary, an insurance fraud investigator with the state of Florida.
 
The state Division of Workers' Compensation's Bureau of Compliance found the business didn't have workers' compensation insurance from June 2013 up until at least its inspection in January of this year.
 
The business also had a lapse in coverage a few years ago.
 
The state issued a stop-work order in January, meaning the restaurant couldn't legally operate.
 
State fraud investigators were contacted. They said the business continued to operate, and that is why Chrissanthidis was arrested.
 
Investigators said she is facing two felony charges for workers' comp fraud -- for not having the insurance and for failing to comply with the stop-work order.
 
When Deal stopped by the restaurant it was open, and employees said they had no idea there was a problem.
 
An attorney told Deal that the workers' compensation issue wasn't an intentional effort to save money, but rather an "administrative SNAFU" that's being worked out.
 
But investigators said it still hasn't been worked out, and that it is always a serious situation when employees are working without the proper coverage.
 
"If an employee would've been hurt or injured during the time they weren't covered, there would've been no way for them to be taken care of," said Cary.
 
Both charges are third-degree felonies. If convicted, Chrissanthidis faces up to 10 years in prison.