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Dec 7, 2018 2:51 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Princess Diner Owner Sentenced To Six Months In Jail For Defrauding Workers

The Princess Diner.
Dec 12, 2018 10:22 AM

The owner of the Princess Diner in Southampton was sentenced to six months in jail on Friday after his conviction for scheming to defraud and failing to pay a collective $132,011 in wages to 23 employees of the restaurant. He also was ordered to pay back the lost wages.

Charges against a former manager at the diner and the LLC that the diner operated under were dismissed, conditionally.

According to State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, Richard Bivona, the owner of the diner, and John Kalogeras, the former manager of the diner, along with RJT Food and Restaurant LLC, defrauded the workers “by falsely promising when workers would receive their wages, including credit card tips that had been illegally withheld.” As a result, the employees were not paid.

Between August and December 2016, Mr. Bivona and Mr. Kalogeras—who sold the diner to Mr. Bivona in August 2016 and stayed on as a manager to operate the restaurant, located near the intersection of County Road 39 and Montauk Highway just outside Southampton Village—failed to pay 15 employees a total of $88,428. Additionally, the two men did not pay eight other employees their collected wages of $43,583 between January 2017 and February 2018.

On Friday, Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho sentenced Mr. Bivona to six months in jail, while Mr. Kalogeras and the LLC were given conditional discharges. Mr. Bivona is required to pay back the $132,011 in unpaid wages.

“Every worker is entitled to the wages they earn—period,” Ms. Underwood said in a prepared statement. “When employers skirt the law and steal from their employees, they’ll face the consequences.

“We’ll continue to enforce the law to protect all New York workers,” she added.

In March, Mr. Bivona and Mr. Kalogeras pleaded not guilty to not paying their employees while lying to them about when they would get their earnings. Workers were not paid their hourly wages, including overtime hours, on a weekly basis, if even at all.

Those who were able to scrape by, were able to do so with cash tips they earned, as credit card tips were held, or partially paid to them several weeks later.

Despite not receiving steady pay, most of the employees continued to work at the diner, according to the press release, but quit after months of false promises.

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