Westwood pizza parlor owner faces federal charges
The owner of Stash's Pizza in Dorchester and Roslindale is being held without bail after a judge decided his history of violence makes him a threat to possible witnesses in his forced labor case.
Driving the news: Federal Judge Judith Gail Dein Tuesday ordered Stavros "Steve" Papantoniadis to remain in jail after reviewing his record, which includes an assault charge for using a pizza shovel as a weapon in 1996 and a 1997 conviction for motor-vehicle homicide, according to court documents.
Catch up quick: Westwood resident Papantoniadis was arrested March 16 and charged with one federal count of forced labor, or compelling employees to work against their will.
- Papantoniadis recruited and hired immigrants not authorized to work in the U.S., and beat and abused seven workers, according to the government's affidavit.
- Papantoniadis would reference an employee's immigration status if they threatened to quit, per the affidavit.
Why it matters: Papantoniadis ran a well-known chain of pizzerias under the Stash's band, which used to have locations in Weymouth, Norwood, Norwell, Randolph and Wareham.
- The case has brought attention to how vulnerable undocumented workers are to abusive employers.
What they're saying: "The defendant's history of violence and threats puts potential witnesses at great risk," Dein wrote in her decision.
The other side: Papantoniadis' defense attorneys said in court this week that many of the accusations date back years.
- The defense team alleged that the accusers are incentivized to testify against Papantoniadis to gain favor in the immigration process, according to CBS Boston.
- Papantoniadis' attorney did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
Zoom in: According to the government's affidavit, Papantoniadis forced employees to work six or seven days a week for depressed or no wages at all, "far more than eight hours per day."
- One immigrant from North Africa told authorities he worked at Stash's sometimes over 100 hours a week between 2001 and 2015 and that Papantoniadis broke his teeth and kicked him in the groin during another violent assault.
Context: Papantoniadis faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The big picture: Greater Boston Legal Services attorney Audrey Richardson told GBH News cases where immigrant workers are exploited are not uncommon.
- Undocumented workers fear deportation if they come forward, she said.
What's next: Papantoniadis has not yet entered a plea and no date has been set for trial.
More Boston stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Boston.