A Princeton contractor who committed insurance fraud by lying and denying insurance benefits owed to a hurt worker was sentenced late Monday to two years of probation and a lifetime ban on applying for state and federal contracts.

Nelson Israel Lopez Giron, 35, was sentenced in Hennepin County District Court on felony charges of workers' compensation insurance fraud after he refused to help a construction worker who was seriously injured when a nail struck his eye.

Lopez Giron, who owns wood-framing firm Giron Construction, admitted in October that he lied to his insurance company about knowing the victim and about having any workers. Misrepresenting his payroll helped him slash his workers' compensation insurance costs.

According to court records, when his worker's eye was injured, Giron reportedly offered the man eye drops and told him not to tell any doctors where or how he was hurt.

The worker, who was permanently injured and asked not to be identified, received medical care at a hospital and filed a workers' comp claim. Lopez Giron told insurance officials that he didn't know the worker, prompting the insurer to deny the man benefits.

A state investigation found Giron Construction should have paid more than $20,500 a year in workers' comp premiums instead of the $671 Giron paid to secure a barebones insurance policy, the criminal complaint said.

The victim's church and the workers rights group CTUL raised money to support the man and his family for more than a year.

"Mr. Lopez Giron tried to cut corners and not play by the rules by which most other business owners play. His employee paid the price for his conduct," Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a statement Monday. "Workers' compensation insurance is a critical protection that workers expect to be there if they are injured on the job."

During the hearing, Carlos Garcia Velasco, a lead organizer with CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha), read a victim impact statement to the court, explaining that CTUL members began working with the victim after he became injured and reported the situation to the county and state.

Minnesota's Commerce Fraud Bureau investigated and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office filed criminal charges against Lopez Giron in April.

During CTUL's own investigation, organizers learned "Lopez Giron employed as many as 15 other workers" who witnessed their coworker getting hurt on the job and then denied benefits, Velasco said, "and they learned how to expect to be treated by bosses."

Undocumented immigrants are often susceptible to wage theft and other abuses on construction jobs, said officials with the state, CTUL and the Minneapolis Labor Standards Enforcement Division.

Velasco told the court that Giron Construction was hired as a subcontractor by several well-known Twin Cities apartment construction firms, including MWF, Dominium, Enclave, Roers, Sherman Associates and Trident Development.

Velasco encouraged larger construction firms to only hire reputable subcontractors known for following state and federal labor laws. Failing to do so helps "prioritize the bottom line over human rights," Velasco said, and allows "labor brokers like Lopez Giron to operate with impunity."