Boston pizza chain owner charged with defrauding U.S. Small Business Administration

BOSTON — The owner of a Boston pizza chain accused of abusing workers is facing additional charges for allegedly defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration, the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts said.

Stavros ‘Steve’ Papantoniadis, the owner of the chain ‘Stash’s Pizza’, is charged with allegedly submitting false information to the SBA to obtain a loan for a business he no longer owned. The Attorney’s Office says Papantoniadis sold one of his pizzerias in Randolph and the Secretary of State subsequently canceled the limited liability company through which Papantoniadis owned the Randolph pizzeria.

However, the Attorney’s Office claims Papantoniadis applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA between November 2021 and January 2022. Papantoniadis allegedly represented that he still owned and operated the Boston Pizza Company in Randolph, claiming he still had 18 employees.

The SBA approved the loan reserved for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and sent Papantoniadis $499,900.

Papantoniadis was arrested on March 16, 2023, and was indicted on four counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor. Papantoniadis was 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.

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.

‘Climate of fear’: Boston pizza chain owner physically, verbally abused workers for years, feds say

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.

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 new charges of wire fraud 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.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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