Pizza Chain Owner Is Found Guilty Of Threatening Undocumented Workers Into Forced Labor

The owner of a local pizza chain in Boston was found guilty Friday of forced labor after prosecutors said he physically abused and threatened to report six undocumented workers to immigration authorities.

Stavros “Steve” Papantoniadis, 48, of Westwood, the owner of three Stash’s Pizza restaurants in Boston, was convicted of three counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts announced. 

Papantoniadis was initially arrested in March 2023 following reports that he had been targeting undocumented employees for about 14 years, NBC affiliate WBTS-TV in Boston reported at the time.

One of the three Stash's Pizza locations in Boston, shown on a Google Maps image.
One of the three Stash's Pizza locations in Boston, shown on a Google Maps image. Google Maps

After Papantoniadis was arrested, a man at one Stash’s location who identified himself as the co-owner told WTBS, “Everything is not true. It’s all fake, and it’ll be resolved in court.”

Evidence presented at the trial showed that Papantoniadis purposely employed workers without legal immigration status and forced them to work 14-hour days for up to seven days a week, federal prosecutors said in the announcement.

According to, during an investigation of Papantoniadis by the U.S. Labor Department in 2017, authorities found evidence that he “tried to intimidate at least one witness.”

“Stavros Papantoniadis instilled fear in his employees. He underpaid and threatened them, some with fear of arrest and many with physical abuse,”  Michael J. Krol, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England, said in Friday’s announcement.

Prosecutors said Papantoniadis would “maintain control” over some undocumented workers by making them believe he would physically harm them or have them deported, according to the announcement. Others reported they were physically abused at work. In all, the experiences of six victims ― five men and one woman ― were detailed in the trial.

In one instance cited by prosecutors, Papantoniadis “violently choked” a worker after learning he intended to quit. Another worker who tried to quit and flee the pizza shop was chased down by Papantoniadis, who made a false police report to pressure him to return.

According to court documents cited by WBTS, one victim who worked at Stash’s Pizza from 2001 to 2015 was physically abused multiple times by Papantoniadis, who also made derogatory comments about the worker’s Muslim religion.

Prosecutors said that the Islamic employee was pushed to the floor and kicked in the genitals and that Papantoniadis threatened to kill him if he sought medical treatment or did not return to work, according to WBTS. The employee’s teeth were broken in one attack, causing him to need dentures.

Papantoniadis is facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge of force labor and attempted force labor. His sentencing is set for Sept. 12.

“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 in the announcement. “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.”