Justice served for Grimaldi’s Pizzeria owner who stole thousands in wages from workers: DA’s office

exterior view of the front of Grimaldi's restaurant in day time
Dean Moses

The owner and manager of a popular Manhattan pizzeria who were accused of stealing thousands of dollars in wages from employees were forced to pay back the dough, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced Wednesday. 

Anthony Piscina, 63, and Frank Santora,71, who own and manage, respectively, the Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at Limelight on Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, faced charges for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 in wages from 18 workers, according to the DA’s office. 

Both men pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to first-degree Attempted Scheme to Defraud. They were sentenced to pay full restitution to the workers, which they submitted to the DA’s office on May 29 by cashier’s check.  

Many of the employees at the restaurant who did not receive their rightfully owed piece of the pie reported the theft to the DA’s office after the indictment was announced in March this year. 

“With today’s guilty plea, 18 hard-working New Yorkers will be made whole and receive the wages stolen from them by their employers at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria,” Bragg said. “This case expanded since the initial announcement because more workers came forward, making clear the importance of both outreach and reporting.”

The investigation began when the DA’s Worker Protection Unit received multiple complaints about alleged wage theft at the restaurant. According to court documents and testimonies, between Aug. 21, 2017, and Aug. 8, 2023, Piscina and Santora schemed to defraud multiple employees at Grimaldi’s of thousands of dollars worth of wages. 

Pizza makers, salad preparers, dishwashers and busboys at the well-known dining locale never received their wages, the DA’s office said.

The employers withheld the earnings by giving the workers paychecks that later bounced, inducing them to continue working by sending them partial payments through financial apps, making appointments to settle the owed wages and then failing to appear at the meetings, offering the workers less than the state minimum wage and failing to pay wages altogether, the DA’s office explained, adding that employees sent repeated texts to their employers asking for their rightful payments.

At times, the defendants agreed to pay the money but never came through. In one instance, Santora gave an employee of six years a letter stating, “I owe you $4,559.” Despite the employee’s efforts to recoup his earnings, the restaurant never paid him, the DA’s office said. 

Both defendants were convicted of attempted scheme to defraud, a class A misdemeanor.