To Date, A.G. Schneiderman Has Recovered Nearly 30 Million In Stolen Wages For Over 21,000 Workers.
New York, NY – September 20, 2017 – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment and arrest of Suffolk County residents Richard Bivona, owner of Southampton Princess Diner (“Princess Diner”), John Kalogeras, manager of Princess Diner, and the corporation, RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC d/b/a Southampton Princess Diner. Bivona and Kalogeras are charged with repeatedly failing to pay thirteen restaurant workers over $82,000 in wages, in addition to allegedly scheming to defraud those workers by continually lying to them about eventually receiving full compensation. Bivona and Kalogeras are each charged with separate counts of harassment for intimidating and threatening workers and their families when the workers asked to be paid.
“A worker’s most basic right is the right to be paid for his or her work,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “These defendants allegedly engaged in a long running scheme to not only steal their employees’ hard-earned money, but to intimidate and harass their victims when they attempted to speak up. We will not allow New York workers to be exploited and demeaned.”
To date, Attorney General Schneiderman has won back nearly $30 million in stolen wages for over 21,000 workers across New York.
The indictment and statements made during today’s arraignment allege that between August 15, 2016, and December 31, 2016, Bivona took over as owner of the Princess Diner from Kalogeras who had been the owner for many years. Kalogeras stayed on as the manager to run the day-to-day operations of the diner, located at 32 Montauk Highway, Southampton, New York. Restaurant employees, including cooks, dishwashers, bussers, and servers, many of whom had worked for the diner for over ten years, continued to work under Bivona’s stewardship. The workers were allegedly paid far less than minimum wage and were often not paid any of their hourly wages on a weekly basis or at all. Prosecutors also allege that none of the workers received overtime pay of time and one-half of their pay rate for their work, despite regularly working more than forty hours per week. In total, the defendants allegedly cheated thirteen employees out of over $82,000 in wages.
As alleged, the investigation revealed that Bivona and Kalogeras made repeated promises to the workers that payment was imminent and asked the workers to be patient; however, after the workers waited for weeks to be paid, payment was sporadic or never came at all. Bivona and Kalogeras would also allegedly intimidate and threaten workers and their families if they spoke up and asked for their wages.
Defendants Bivona and RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC are separately charged with failing to secure workers’ compensation coverage, failing to make unemployment insurance contributions to the New York State Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Fund, and failing to provide proper employment records to the NYS Department of Labor.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
The 35-count indictment filed in Suffolk County charges all three defendants, Bivona, Kalogeras, and RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC, with 9 counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony; one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a Class E felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class E Felony; three counts of Petit Larceny, a Class A misdemeanor; and thirteen counts of Failure to Pay Wages in accordance with the Labor Law, an unclassified misdemeanor. Defendants Bivona and RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC, are charged with one count of Failure to Secure Workers’ Compensation Coverage, a Class E felony; one count of Failure to Keep Records in accordance with Article 19 (“Minimum Wage Act”) of the Labor Law; and two counts of Willful Failure to Pay a Contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Bivona and Kalogeras were each charged separately with two counts of Harassment, a violation.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Labor, specifically Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection James Rogers, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection Milan Bhatt, Labor Standards Division Investigator Jeyce DeClue, under the supervision of Angela Dean and Chief Nancy Gao, and Unemployment Insurance Division Auditor Peter Dixon, under the supervision of Louis Adinolfi, Ilan Basch, and Lynne Camileo for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution. The Attorney General also thanks the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, specifically Senior Investigator Gregory Holmes, under the supervision of Teri Cooper. In addition, the Attorney General thanks the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Southampton Police Department, specifically Detective Kevin Gwinn, Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa, and Chief of Police Steven E. Skrynecki.
The investigation was handled for the Attorney General’s Office by Investigator Melissa Kaplan and Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus and Chief Dominick Zarrella.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jennifer S. Michael and Rachael C. Anello, with the assistance of Yadira Filpo, Tyisha Bedford, and Joan Johnson, and being supervised by the Labor Bureau’s Criminal Section Chief Richard Balletta, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Suffolk County Regional Office Kimberly Kinirons, Labor Bureau Chief ReNika Moore, Chief Stephanie Swenton of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Martin J. Mack.