New York Diner Owner Latest to Get Jail Time in Wage Case

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By John Herzfeld

A Long Island, N.Y., diner owner was sentenced to six months in jail on charges that he failed to pay $132,000 in wages due to 23 workers.

The Dec. 7 jail sentence was the fifth obtained by the New York attorney general’s office in wage cases over the past two years, as part of a more aggressive prosecutorial approach at the state level.

Richard Bivona, owner of the Princess Diner in the beach resort village of Southampton, N.Y., pleaded guilty in March to charges that he and the restaurant’s former manager underpaid the workers, illegally withheld credit card tips, and lied to them when they promised to turn over the wages.

He’d already been required to repay the workers prior to his sentencing by Acting Justice Fernando Camacho in state Supreme Court for Suffolk County. The restitution went to 15 workers for unpaid wages between August and December 2016, and to eight others for January 2017 to February 2018.

The former manager, John Kalogeras, got a conditional discharge of his sentence, meaning the charges will be expunged if he meets the terms of his plea agreement.

Bivona took over the landmark diner from Kalogeras and his family in August 2016, with Kalogeras continuing as manager, prosecutors said. Longtime employees stayed on the job in the hopes of receiving back wages and credit card tips held by Bivona but gave up and quit after months of promises, they alleged.

Representatives of the defendants didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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