Richard Bivona, owner of Southampton Princess Diner, Sentenced to Six Months in Jail for Scheming to Defraud and Failing to Pay Employees.
Southampton, NY - December 7, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced the sentencing of Suffolk County residents Richard Bivona, the owner of Southampton Princess Diner (“Princess Diner”), and John Kalogeras, former manager of Princess Diner, as well as RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC – doing business as Princess Diner. Bivona and Kalogeras were charged with failing to pay restaurant workers and scheming to defraud them by falsely promising when workers would receive their wages, including credit card tips that had been illegally withheld. Together, Bivona and Kalogeras misappropriated a total of over $132,000 from 23 low-wage workers.
Today, Bivona was sentenced to six months in jail and Kalogeras was sentenced to a conditional discharge by the Honorable Fernando Camacho of Suffolk County Supreme Court. RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC was also sentenced to a conditional discharge. Bivona has been required to pay $88,428 to 15 workers for unpaid wages earned between August and December 2016, and an additional $43,583 to eight other employees for unpaid wages earned between January 2017 and February 2018, for a total of over $132,000.
“Every worker is entitled to the wages they earn – period. When employers skirt the law and steal from their employees, they’ll face the consequences,” said Attorney General Underwood. “We’ll continue to enforce the law to protect all New York workers.”
Princess Diner, located at 32 Montauk Highway, had served Southampton for decades. In August 2016, Bivona took over the diner from Kalogeras and his family, but kept Kalogeras on as the manager to run the day-to-day operations. Restaurant employees – including cooks, dishwashers, bussers, and servers – who had previously worked for the diner for over ten years, continued to work under Bivona. Between August and December 2016, Bivona and Kalogeras failed to pay workers their wages, which often included overtime hours, on a weekly basis, as required by law, or at all. Employees who received cash tips lived off those cash tips exclusively, since Bivona withheld most of their credit card tips from them or paid them only a partial amount several weeks later.
Both Bivona and Kalogeras repeatedly promised the workers that payment was imminent, but many workers either never received any payment or only received sporadic payment after waiting for weeks to be paid. Employees continued to work at the diner in the hopes of eventually getting paid as promised, but the workers ultimately quit when they did not receive payment after months of promises.
On March 9, 2018, Bivona pled guilty to Scheme to Defraud, a class E felony, and Failure to Pay Wages, an unclassified misdemeanor, while Kalogeras pled guilty to Failure to Pay Wages. RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC pled guilty to Scheme to Defraud and Failure to Secure Workers’ Compensation Coverage as class E felonies.
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 Investigator Dominick Zarrella.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jennifer S. Michael and Rachael C. Anello, with the assistance of Legal Assistant Yadira Filpo, Tyisha Bedford, and Joan Johnson, and under the supervision of 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, Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, Acting Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Gary Brown, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Matthew Colangelo, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Margaret Garnett.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for their assistance in this case.