Former Onset pizzeria owner convicted of forced labor charges

Jun 10, 2024

The owner of Stash’s Pizza, a pizzeria chain in Massachusetts which had a location in Onset, was convicted on Friday, June 9 following a nine-day trial on forced labor charges. 

The owner, Stavros a.k.a. “Steve” Papantoniadis, 48 of Westwood, was convicted of three counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor. 

Papantoniadis forced or attempted to force six victims to work for him and comply with excessive workplace demands through violent physical abuses, threats of violence and serious harm, and repeated threats to report the victims to immigration authorities for deportation, according to the Massachusetts District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Papantoniadis operated a Stash’s Pizza location at 182 Onset Ave. from 2013 to 2020. It is now the location of the Onset Beach Patio & Grille, which opened in May 2022.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, victims testified at trial to working at Onset, but did not include any abusive conduct specifically at Onset.

According to evidence introduced at trial, Papantoniadis thinly staffed his pizza shops and purposely employed workers without immigration status to work behind the scenes for 14 or more hours per day and as many as seven days per week. 

To maintain control of those undocumented workers, he made them believe that he would physically harm them or have them deported. He monitored the workers with surveillance cameras; constantly demeaned, insulted and harassed them; and violently choked one victim upon learning that victim planned to quit. 

“Stavros Papantoniadis instilled fear in his employees,” said Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England. “He underpaid and threatened them, some with fear of arrest and many with physical abuse. Today, the jury saw the indignities his employees were subjected to and have found Papantoniadis guilty of forced labor violations.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy said, “Today’s guilty verdict sends a powerful message to abusive employers that exploiting employees through fear and intimidation will never be tolerated. I hope that this verdict also alerts others who may be victims of exploitation and harm by employers that the federal government will not sit idly by.”

The charges of forced labor and attempted forced labor each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. Chief U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Sept. 12, 2024 at 11 a.m.