Vitale’s Pizza chain accused of racketeering in federal lawsuit

Posted at 4:37 PM, Jul 13, 2018

**Editors note:  A previous version of this story did not specify that the lawsuit has been filed against just one Vitale’s location in Grand Rapids.  We apologize for that oversight in our reporting.**

WEST MICHIGAN — The owner of the popular pizza restaurant Vitale’s on Leonard Street in Grand Rapids faces a federal lawsuit with accusations of racketeering and cooking the books.

Former employee Emilio Torres, who states he worked at several locations, filed the suit in federal court this week.

Torres is accusing the Leonard Street business of tax evasion, short-changing employees and defrauding worker’s compensation. When employees worked extra hours, Vitale’s allegedly paid them under the table in cash and failed to report those wages to the IRS. Torres said employees also didn’t receive the overtime rate (or ‘time and a half’) for working extra hours. Owners are also accused of telling employees not to report cash wages when filing their income taxes to cover the business’s tracks.

The complaint alleges Vitale’s has done this for at least a decade. Torres is requesting a jury trial and ultimately compensation for lost wages for all affected employees.

FOX 17 has reached out to Vitale’s for comment and was later contacted by an attorneyfor the Leonard Street restaurant.  Ian Northon calls the allegations baseless and says he will fight the allegations in court.

“Mr. Vitale has been a pillar of the local community for more than 52 years,”  Northon said.  “He looks forward to his day in court and will actively and vigorously defend his reputation, his restaurant and his current employees from these unsubstantiated attacks.”