BOSTON (WBSM) — The man who owns a pizzeria chain that formerly had a location in Wareham has been convicted on charges of forced labor.

Stavros Papantoniadis, also known as “Steve,” 48, of Westwood was convicted of three counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor.

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

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Papantoniadis is the owner and operator of Stash’s Pizza, a chain of pizzerias which has locations in Dorchester and Roslindale, and previously had pizzerias in Norwood, Norwell, Randolph (known as Boston Pizza Company), Weymouth (as Pacini’s Italian Eatery) and Wareham.

Five men and one woman who worked for Papantoniadis used violent physical abuse, threats of abuse and repeated threats to report victims to immigration authorities and have them deported in order to get them to work as much as 14 hours a day for as many as seven days a week.

“To maintain control of those undocumented workers, he made them believe that he would physically harm them or have them deported,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “He monitored the workers with surveillance cameras, which he accessed from his cell phone, and constantly demeaned, insulted and harassed them.”

He also violently choked one of the employees upon learning the victim planned to quit, causing the victim to flee the shop. Other employees who threatened to quit were told that Papantoniadis “would kill” them or call immigration authorities; he threatened another by telling him he knew where the victim lived. He also chased another employee down Route 1 in Norwood and falsely reported the victim to local police to try to pressure the victim into returning to work at the shop.

“Mr. Papantoniadis preyed on the desperation of those without immigration status, subjecting them to violence and threats of deportation,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy said. “Forced labor is a serious violation of human rights, and no one in the United States should live in fear of abuse and coercion in their workplace. I commend the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners who worked collaboratively to bring this defendant to justice.”

Papantoniadis remains in custody, as he has since his March 16, 2023 arrest. Sentencing is scheduled for September 12.

Each charge of forced labor and attempted forced labor allows for a sentence of up to 20 years of prison, up to five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution.

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