Boston pizzeria chain owner charged with assaulting, threatening immigrant employee
The owner of a Boston-area pizzeria chain has been arrested on federal charges that he physically assaulted and verbally abused an immigrant employee for nearly 14 years, authorities announced Thursday.
Stavros Papantoniadis, 47, was arrested Thursday morning on one count of forced labor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts reports. The owner of Stash’s Pizza, which goes by Steve’s, targeted undocumented workers and underpaid them, prosecutors said.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins called the charges against Papantoniadis “appalling.”
“Nobody has the right to violently kick, slap, punch or choke an employee, and certainly not an employer,” Rollins said. “This case illustrates the manipulative, violent and abusive tactics some employers use for their own greed and financial gain.”
The Justice Department said he created a climate of fear at his chain of pizzerias, which have locations in Dorchester and Roslandale, Massachusetts. Papantoniadis previously owned pizzerias in Norwood, Norwell, Randolph, Weymouth and Wareham.
The victim, identified in charging documents as “Victim 1,” worked for Papantoniadis from 2001 to 2015, authorities said. During that period, Papantoniadis pushed the employee to the floor, kicked him in the genitals and broke his teeth on various occasions, the Justice Department said. He also slapped and choked the victim, prosecutors allege, and repeatedly made derogatory comments about the man’s religious beliefs.
Papantoniadis encouraged the victim to continue working for Papantoniadis by threatening to kill the employee or report him to immigration authorities if he did not return to work, prosecutors said.
When a different employee planned to quit, Papantonidis filed a false police report about the worker, who was later pulled over and cited by police, according to prosecutors.
Papantoniadis also required his employees to work six to seven days a week, federal investigators found, and often worked more than eight hours a day without breaks or overtime pay.
If convicted, Papantonidis faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The pizzeria owner appeared in court Thursday morning and is pending a March 20 detention hearing.