BOSTON — The owner of Stash’s Pizza accused of abusing workers has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston with forced labor charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
Stavros Papantoniadis, also known Steve Papantoniadis, 48, of Westwood, was indicted on four counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor. Papantoniadis has remained in federal custody since his arrest on March 16, 2023. He was previously charged with one count of forced labor.
Papantoniadis is accused of targeting and employing at least seven victims who lacked immigration status and forcing them to work while subjecting them to verbal and physical abuse, including repeated threats of deportation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
According to court documents, Papantoniadis is the owner and operator of Stash’s Pizza, a chain of pizzerias with locations in Dorchester and Roslindale, and previous locations in Norwood, Norwell and Randolph (doing business as Boston Pizza Company), Weymouth (doing business as Pacini’s Italian Eatery) and Wareham, Mass.
Over the course of several years, Papantoniadis allegedly targeted victims who lacked immigration status, employed them at depressed wages and demanded that they work, in most cases, six to seven days per week, at times for far more than eight hours per day and often without breaks or overtime compensation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Papantoniadis also allegedly withheld wages.
Papantoniadis allegedly forced or attempted to force at least seven victims to work for him and comply with excessive workplace demands by means of violent physical abuse; threats of violence or serious harm; and repeated threats to report victims to immigration authorities to have them deported, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
It is alleged that Papantoniadis violently attacked one of the victims several times, including kicking him in the genitals, slapping and choking the victim and causing him to lose teeth, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Also, prosecutors allege that when three other victims separately expressed intentions to quit, Papantoniadis allegedly threatened one victim by telling the victim that he knew where he lived; he attacked another victim, forcing him to run to safety in the parking lot; and filed a false police report on another victim who wanted to leave Papantoniadis’ operation.
According to court documents, at least four of the victims feared that if they did not continue working for Papantoniadis, he would hurt them and/or report them to immigration authorities.
Prosecutors allege that Papantoniadis’ conduct enabled him to substantially benefit financially over other businesses in the local pizza market, by running Stash’s Pizza with fewer and cheaper workers over whom he allegedly exercised significant control, all of which reduced his businesses’ labor and operating costs.
The charges of forced labor and attempted forced labor each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Members of the public who have information or questions relevant to this case should call 888-221-6023, Option 5 or send an email with contact information to USAMA.VictimAssistance@usdoj.gov.
Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.
Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW
©2023 Cox Media Group