Princess Diner Owner, Manager Allegedly Stole Workers' Wages

Richard Bivona, left, and John Kalogeras, right, were charged with withholding workers' wages at the Princess Diner in a 35-count indictment Courtesy of the New York State Attorney General

The owner and manager of the Princess Diner in Southampton were arrested following a 35-count indictment on charges that they withheld over $82,000 in wages from 13 employees and threatened the workers and their families when they asked to be paid. 

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the indictment on Tuesday. Richard Bivona, the owner of RJT Food & Restaurant L.L.C., and John Kalogeras, the manager and a former owner of the diner, were charged with repeatedly failing to pay restaurant workers and scheming to defraud those workers and harassment. According to Mr. Schneiderman, they continually lied to the workers about eventually receiving full compensation. 

According to the attorney general's office, Mr. Bivona, 57, of Water Mill, became the owner of the Princess Diner on Montauk Highway between Aug. 15, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016. Mr. Kalogeras, 56, of Commack, had been the owner for many years and continued to run the day-to-day operations. Restaurant employees, including cooks, dishwashers, busers, and servers, many of whom had worked for the diner for over 10 years, also remained.

"The workers were allegedly paid far less than minimum wage and were often not paid any of their hourly wages on a weekly basis or at all," a statement from Mr. Schneiderman's office said. Prosecutors also asserted during the arraignment on Tuesday that workers did not receive overtime pay of time pluse one-half of their pay rate for their work, despite regularly working more than 40 hours per week. 

“A worker’s most basic right is the right to be paid for his or her work,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. “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.”

The Princess Diner remained open on Tuesday afternoon.

The indictment, filed in Suffolk County, charges Mr. Bivona, Mr. Kalogeras, and RJT Food & Restaurant L.L.C., with nine counts of grand larceny in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, one count of scheming to defraud in the first degree, all felonies; three counts of petty larceny, and 13 counts of failure to pay wages in accordance with the Labor Law, all misdemeanors. 

Additionally, Mr. Bivona and RJT Food & Restaurant L.L.C. are charged with one count of failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage, a felony; one count of failure to keep records in accordance with the Minimum Wage Act of the Labor Law, and two counts of willful failure to pay a contribution to the unemployment insurance fund. 

Mr. Bivona and Mr. Kalogeras were each charged separately with two counts of harassment, a violation.

Arraigned before Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, they were released on their own recognizance following arraignment in Central Islip. They are due back in court on Oct. 20.

The Attorney General said the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, and the Southampton Town Police Department were involved in the investigation.