Boston pizza shop owner called to court after arrest on forced labor charge – Boston News, Weather, Sports

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BOSTON (WHDH) – A Boston pizza shop owner was called to federal court in Boston for a detention hearing on Monday a matter of days after he was arrested last week on a charge of forced labor. 

Stavros Papantoniadis, 47, of Westwood is accused of abusing employees, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced on Thursday. U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, who spent most of the day watching Papantoniadis’ detention hearing on Monday, said Papantoniadis is guilty of a form of human trafficking by using threats and physical violence to retain employees. 

One employee told a Homeland Security investigator he worked between 85 and 110 hours a week at Stash’s Pizza in Dorchester with no days off, according to officials.

Special Agent John Heaton, testified that one victim, an undocumented immigrant from North Africa, was brutally beaten on multiple occasions. Heaton said the man even lost his teeth. In 2007, Heaton said Papantoniadis kicked the man in the groin when he asked for a day off. 

Heaton said the man was required to undergo a medical procedure. 

“He stated he had to have a catheter inserted,” Heaton said. 

The complaint in this case said there are seven victims in all. Some said Papantoniadis would file false police resorts when he grew angry in an effort to get victims deported.

Rollins has said the allegations are “horrific.” 

Papantoniadis has been behind bars since his arrest on Thursday. On Monday, Papantoniadis’s defense called one of his longtime managers, Jerry Skordas, who told the judge employees respect Papantoniadis and look up to him. 

Skordas said he never saw Papantoniadis hit anybody. 

“110%, he never touched anybody,” Skordas said. 

He said he believes the employees involved in this case are making allegations up. 

“100%,” he said. “Financial gain possible is the only thing I can think of.”

Papantoniadis’ defense attorney argued the charges are very old, some dating back between 10 and 15 years. He said the accusers are simply trying to improve their immigration status. 

His friends agreed. 

One friend said he has “no idea” why those involved would make up allegations. 

“It’s sad,” the friend said. “The guy’s been in business for 30 years.”

Another friend said he had never known Papantoniadis to be violent.

More than three dozen of Papantoniadis’ supporters showed up at court, prompting the judge to find a bigger courtroom. 

Papantoniadis’s defense attorney said releasing Papantoniadis with a GPS monitoring device would be appropriate. Judge Judith Dein took comments under advisement on Monday with no ruling on whether to release Papantoniadis.

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