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Story - Food

Sep 19, 2017 2:57 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Princess Diner Owner And Manager Indicted And Charged With Withholding Wages From Employees

The Pricess Diner.
Sep 20, 2017 1:27 PM

The owner and the manager of the Princess Diner in Southampton were arrested on Tuesday on felony criminal charges after being accused of repeatedly failing to pay 13 restaurant workers more than $82,000 in wages over the course of more than four months last year, in addition to continually lying to them about when they would be paid.

Owner Richard Bivona and manager John Kalogeras—the former owner of the restaurant—face a total of 35 counts, including felony counts of grand larceny. Both also were charged with separate counts of harassment after they were accused of intimidating and threatening workers and their families when the workers asked to be paid.

Both were released on their own recognizance pending further action, according to the attorney general’s office.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, in a press release, announced the indictment and arrest of Mr. Bivona, 57, of Water Mill and Mr. Kalogeras, 56, of Commack, on Tuesday. Included in the indictment was the business, RJT Food & Restaurant LLC, which owns the Southampton Princess Diner.

“A worker’s most basic right is the right to be paid for his or her work,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “These defendants allegedly engaged in a long-running scheme to not only steal their employees’ hard-earned money but to intimidate and harass their victims when they attempted to speak up. We will not allow New York workers to be exploited and demeaned.”

According to Southampton Town Police, the investigation stemmed from two Princess Diner employees who reported to police that they were not receiving proper compensation from their employer. A meeting in January between Town Police and several additional employees, as well as the New York State Department of Labor, revealed that 13 employees were reportedly not receiving proper compensation for their work and were reportedly threatened and intimidated by Mr. Bivona and Mr. Kalogeras. Initially, police charged Mr. Bivona with menacing, related to threatening one of the victim’s family members.

The indictment and statements made at the arraignment allege that between August 15, 2016, and December 31, 2016, Mr. Bivona took over as owner of the Princess Diner from Mr. Kalogeras, who had been the owner for many years. Mr. Kalogeras stayed on as the manager to run the day-to-day operations of the diner.

Restaurant employees, including cooks, dishwashers, bussers and servers, many of whom had worked for the diner for more than a decade, continued to work under Mr. Bivona’s stewardship. The attorney general’s office said they were paid far less than minimum wage and were often not paid any of their hourly wages on a weekly basis, or at all.

Prosecutors also allege that none of the workers received overtime pay, equal to 1.5 times their pay rate, despite regularly working more than 40 hours per week.

The attorney general said an investigation revealed that Mr. Bivona and Mr. Kalogeras made repeated promises to the workers that payment was imminent and asked the workers to be patient. However, after the workers waited for weeks to be paid, payment was sporadic or never came at all.

Mr. Bivona and Mr. Kalogeras also would allegedly intimidate and threaten workers and their families if they spoke up and asked for their wages, according to Mr. Schneiderman’s office.

Mr. Bivona and RJT Food & Restaurant LLC separately were charged with failing to secure workers’ compensation coverage, failing to make unemployment insurance contributions to the New York State Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Fund, and failing to provide proper employment records to the State Department of Labor.

The 35-count indictment filed in Suffolk County court charges all three defendants, Mr. Bivona, Mr. Kalogeras, and RJT Food & Restaurant LLC, with nine counts of grand larceny in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree, all felonies, as well as misdemeanor counts of petit larceny and failure to pay wages in accordance with labor laws.

Mr. Bivona and RJT Food & Restaurant, LLC, were charged with one count of failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage, a felony, among other violations.

On the most serious grand larceny charge, the state’s sentencing guidelines range from probation to seven years in prison on each charge.

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used to go for sunday breakfast almost every weekend. the old time employees were not there early summer. and the food went downhill really fast. shame diners are a thing of the past and that one was usually good or decent.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 19, 17 4:09 PM
Gangster lmao Threatening people who make little money what is dirt bag
By chief1 (2790), southampton on Sep 19, 17 4:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gee. Shocker. Nothing there ever seemed shady...?
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Sep 19, 17 4:13 PM
That s why the credit card machine never worked. Better check all those tax records. Many times When we were there all the lights weren't on. It is not like they have low prices
By Bryren (1), Southampton on Sep 19, 17 5:28 PM
2 members liked this comment
no more diners, bars or clubs. just CVS, rich boy shops, Food stores we cant afford, and doctors offices. boring old Hamptons.

By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Sep 19, 17 6:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe Joe Farrell needs the property
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Sep 19, 17 6:05 PM
Where are all the right winger saying that they didn't have to work there, and it's their poor choices which were the problem?
By Mr. Z (11695), North Sea on Sep 19, 17 6:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
Where did THAT come from? How is this a Left-Right / Progressive-Conservative thing?

Or are you just trying to curry favor with someone like June Bug who will doubtless be along any minute now to "Like" your irrelevant comment?



By Frank Wheeler (1825), Northampton on Sep 19, 17 7:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's the nominal response here when things like this happen. They weren't forced to work there, they could have found another job, etc.

If you doubt me, well just pay more attention...
By Mr. Z (11695), North Sea on Sep 19, 17 11:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
How about you Democrats stop using people of color while attempting to make tortured political points?

In reality, where is LaRaza, Organizacion Latino-American or any of the other advocacy organizations around here decrying the enslavement of the employees at the Diner?

By even flow (994), East Hampton on Sep 20, 17 8:11 AM
many times sign said credit card machine down cash only
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 19, 17 6:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
High labor, food, insurance and rent costs make it impossible for restaurants to survive out here unless owner has deeeep pockets. Just another unfortunate casualty.
By harbor (411), East Hampton on Sep 19, 17 6:59 PM
unfortunate casualty are you kidding??? these men stole from employees didn't pay wages overtime workman comp and just wait tilll sales tax rips them a new one. thieves!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 19, 17 7:09 PM
3 members liked this comment
unfortunate casualty are you kidding??? these men stole from employees didn't pay wages overtime workman comp and just wait tilll sales tax rips them a new one. thieves!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 19, 17 7:13 PM
This stuff happens all of the time when restaurants are in finnacial trouble. Most restaurants don't pay overtime.. not much of a secret.
By jackiemay (23), east hampton on Sep 20, 17 4:11 PM
timely now that the property behind is being developed
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 19, 17 7:14 PM
Richard Bivona turns out is a nefarious character. He closed a catering hall in 2011 absconding with tens of thousands in deposits...
By lursagirl (241), southampton on Sep 19, 17 9:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
Is Bivona still living in George Guldi's house @ 2027 Deerfield Rd In Watermill? The one I won back for him after it was illegally foreclosed upon by a corrupt Suffolk Judge and illegally sold at auction?
By oneseriousSicilian (63), medford on Sep 20, 17 11:18 AM
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/ad2/calendar/webcal/decisions/2013/D38801.pdf
By oneseriousSicilian (63), medford on Sep 20, 17 11:19 AM
The link says Guldi was pro se, so are you Guldi? Are you referring to yourself in the third person?
By Thatguy (1), Southampton on Sep 20, 17 4:52 PM
No, I'm Terri Scofield. Despite constant warnings from George Guldi's siblings, adult children & ex-wives, associates, etc. that he would use and discard me, I supported George Guldi from his indictment in 2009 through December of 2016 as a friend, paralegal, lover, property manager (VT) and from 2012 - 2016 fiancee'. I did not realize he was merely using me, my inheritance and my paralegal expertise until he knew he was going to be sprung from prison and eventually exonerated.
That said, as ...more
By oneseriousSicilian (63), medford on Sep 23, 17 6:56 AM
Does it really matter what their expenses are?
The worker should be paid.
I'm sure Nys Dept of taxation is investigating as well.
I'm not sure why the manager was charged though. He's just another employee.
The owner is responsible for paying.

By Urit (24), Quogue on Sep 21, 17 2:46 PM
Not really!
By lursagirl (241), southampton on Sep 21, 17 6:08 PM
Noticed that some of the regular Hispanic workers were not there anymore in the early winter months of 2016. I asked John about it and he told me that the place was sold in August. I don't see how he was charged if he was only the manager and was relaying what the owner was telling him. I also noted the higher prices and improvements in the food. I hope these problems are satisfactorily resolved for John and the other employees.
By jpiazza1 (1), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 21, 17 4:04 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By lursagirl (241), southampton on Sep 21, 17 6:07 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Thatguy (1), Southampton on Sep 21, 17 4:45 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Thatguy (1), Southampton on Sep 21, 17 8:06 PM
LOCK THEM UP!!!!
By johnj (1019), Westhampton on Sep 29, 17 10:51 AM
Stop hiring illegals. Period. They become victims of situations like this, and benefit from quasi-advocacy groups who have proliferated all over HB. The tail wagging the dog...smh
By Moral Dolphin (50), Southampton on Sep 30, 17 8:42 AM
Workers lied and cheated government for years, when asked for legal docs to put them on the books..... surprise now we have a case
By Bohay (18), Watermill on Jan 1, 18 12:14 PM