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Judge denies bail for Stash’s Pizza owner accused of exploiting workers

Stash's Pizza owner Stavros "Steve" Papantoniadis in 2016.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

A Boston pizza shop owner accused of assaulting undocumented employees and forcing them to work for him for low wages will remain jailed without bail, a federal magistrate judge ordered Tuesday.

Stavros “Steve” Papantoniadis’s “history of violence and threats puts potential witnesses at risk,” US Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday, one day after she held a three-hour hearing in US District Court in Boston to determine whether the 48-year-old owner of Stash’s Pizza in Dorchester and Roslindale should be released on bail.

“At this juncture, the evidence against him appears strong,” Dein wrote. “The government has met its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assume the safety of any other person and the community.”


Papantoniadis, who formerly owned pizza parlors in several other communities, was arrested by federal investigators last week on a charge of forced labor. He is accused of hiring undocumented immigrants from North Africa, Central America, and Brazil, and using violence and threatening to report them to immigration authorities if they refused to work long hours without proper compensation.

In court papers, federal authorities alleged that seven immigrants were victimized over a period of 15 years. Papantoniadis is accused of physically abusing them, sexually assaulting one worker, and warning them that police would side with him because he gave officers discounts.

One of those alleged victims, a man from North Africa, told authorities he worked up to 119 hours each week, according to an affidavit. Papantoniadis allegedly assaulted the man several times, once kicking him in the groin with such force he had to have surgery. In other attacks, Papantoniadis broke the man’s upper and lower teeth, authorities alleged.

Dein said Papantoniadis’s criminal history weighed into her decision.


In 2017, an investigation by the Department of Labor, Wage, and Hours Division against Papantoniadis and his pizza businesses for overtime violations resulted in a payment pursuant to a consent decree in 2019, Dein wrote.

“There is evidence that the defendant tried to intimidate at least one witness during the investigation, told him to lie to investigators, and threatened him for being a ‘snitch’ who lacked immigration status in the United States,” Dein wrote.

Authorities said Monday Papantoniadis is likely to face additional charges. They allege he committed fraud related to a $500,000 federal pandemic relief loan he received for a business he had already sold and unemployment benefits he collected while vacationing in Aruba.

A search of Papantoniadis’s iCloud account also revealed several sexually explicit videos, which prosecutors allege depicted pain being inflicted on women and in one case a boy, according to testimony in US District Court.

Tonya Alanez can be reached at Follow her @talanez.