U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. Owner of Boston Pizzeria Chain Convicted of Forced Labor after HSI, Department of Labor Investigation

Owner of Boston Pizzeria Chain Convicted of Forced Labor after HSI, Department of Labor Investigation

Release Date: June 11, 2024

BOSTON — The owner of a pizzeria chain in Massachusetts was convicted June 7 of forced labor charges following a nine-day jury trial.

An investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New England and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General found the defendant 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.

Stavros “Steve” Papantoniadis, 48, of Westwood, was convicted of three counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 12. Papantoniadis has remained in custody since his arrest by HSI special agents on March 16, 2023.

“Stavros Papantoniadis instilled fear in his employees. 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,” said HSI New England Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Krol. “Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect — especially those who place their trust in their employer. HSI is committed to ensuring those who violate forced labor laws are held accountable and brought to justice.”

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 (d/b/a Boston Pizza Company), Weymouth (d/b/a Pacini’s Italian Eatery) and Wareham.

Papantoniadis forced or attempted to force five men and one woman to work for him through violent physical abuse, threats of abuse and repeated threats to report victims to immigration authorities to have them deported.

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 as many as seven days per week. To maintain control of those workers without legal status, he made them believe that he would physically harm them or have them deported. He monitored the workers with surveillance cameras, which he accessed from his cellphone, and constantly demeaned, insulted and harassed them.

When Papantoniadis learned that one victim planned to quit, he violently choked him, causing that victim to flee the pizza shop and run to safety in the parking lot. When other victims separately expressed their intentions to quit, Papantoniadis told one victim that he would kill him and call immigration authorities; and he threatened another worker by telling him he knew where the victim lived. When another worker tried to leave and drive away from one of Papantoniadis’ pizza shops, Papantoniadis chased the victim down Route 1 in Norwood and falsely reported the victim to the local police in an effort to pressure the victim to return to work at the pizza shop.

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. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. sentencing guidelines and statutes that govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

“The jury’s verdict affirms the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General’s commitment to prioritize and investigate allegations of labor trafficking by individuals who enrich themselves through coercion or force. Stavros Papantoniadis used threats of arrest, deportation, reprisals and physical violence to ensure his employees continued to work for wages lower than required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate those who engage in labor trafficking,” said Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone of the DOL’s Office of Inspector General’s Northeast Region.

“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. We will vigorously investigate and prosecute any employer who thinks they are above the law and physically and mentally abuses employees, withholds wages due or threatens and intimidates workers,” said acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Mr. Papantoniadis preyed on the desperation of those without immigration status, subjecting them to violence and threats of deportation. 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.”

Krol, Levy and Mellone made the announcement June 11. Assistance was provided by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the Boston Police Department and the Norwood Police Department.

Forced labor is a form of human trafficking. HSI plays an integral role in combating human trafficking by working with its law enforcement partners to deter, disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks that engage in it. Special agents use their expertise and rely on HSI’s authorities to seize assets and eliminate profit incentives, work with nongovernmental organizations to protect and assist victims, and bring traffickers to justice. HSI leads the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking to advance counter human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims and enhance prevention efforts. The CCHT integrates the efforts of every component within DHS involved in combating human trafficking, including criminal investigations, victim assistance, identifying and reporting human trafficking, external outreach, intelligence and training.

HSI’s Victim Assistance Program provides a critical resource to HSI investigations and criminal prosecutions. The Victim Assistance Program helps preserve victims’ and survivors’ rights, helps connect them with the services they’re legally entitled to receive, and provides them with the support they need to fully participate in the criminal justice process.

If you suspect someone may be a human trafficking victim, call the HSI Tip Line at 877-4-HSI-TIP.

Last Updated: 06/12/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content