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Doc's owners face labor charges

Published 5:34 pm, Wednesday, April 25, 2012
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The owners of Doc's Trattoria and Pizzeria in Kent are facing charges of violation of state labor laws.

Roberto Pizzo, 42, and his wife, Paulette Manetti-Pizzo, 46, were arraigned April 16 in state Superior Court in Bantam, each charged with two counts of failure to pay minimum wages and three counts of failure to pay overtime. They were each released on $500 bond.

The charges stem from complaints made by three former employees of Doc's to the state Department of Labor, Wage and Workplace Standards Division.

Lilian A. Vasquez, a former dishwasher at Doc's, and Santiago Ramirez and Henry Leal, former cooks at the restaurant, filed complaints for nonpayment of wages in July, 2011 against Mr. Pizzo and Ms. Manetti-Pizzo, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Wage enforcement agent Blair Bertaccini told police the complainants said they had worked 72 to 75 hours per week, receiving salaries rather than hourly wages, court documents state.

Mr. Bertaccini said he reviewed the Pizzos' wage records from July 2009 to May 2011 and determined the three complainants were owed a total of $50,117.51. Interest for each, totalling $11,404, was added to that figure.

Calls to Mr. Pizzo and Ms. Manetti-Pizzo on Friday were not returned. Their attorney, Martin J. Minnella, said he did not "know why arrests occurred in this case."

"The Pizzos are law-abiding citizens," Mr. Minnella said. "They run a successful operation. They're hands-on, working alongside their employees. There was no intent to break the law here."

Mr. Minnella said he would request a meeting with a designee of the state Labor Commissioner. He hopes to resolve the issue out of court, he said.

First Selectman Bruce Adams said Friday he was "sure there's some part of this we're not hearing.

"I taught Paulette in school years ago," Mr. Adams said. "They are absolutely respected members of the town's business community ... very highly regarded."

Doc's Trattoria and Pizzeria was opened on Maple Street in Kent in April 2008. The restaurant previously was on Lake Waramaug in New Preston. Mr. Pizzo has owned the business since the summer of 1999.

The restaurant site in New Preston was frequented by celebrities including Joan Rivers, Conan O'Brien and Arthur Miller, Mr. Pizzo told The News-Times in a 2000 interview.