Vitale’s Pizza chain accused of racketeering in federal lawsuit

**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.”

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  • Hillary

    I like how the article started out as a RICO case the federal government was launching against 5 individuals, and “he could make people disappear”
    Seeing that there is only the word of a disgruntled former employee and his lawyer.
    Now I see the article has been modified to reflect something a little more truthful.
    Shame on the media, zero integrity anymore.
    I hope Sal sues the crap out of anyone who was involved in this fine application of due process.

    • Hillary

      If you have ever been to this restaurant, you would find that the same staff has been there for the 20 plus years I have gone there. And only one employee is claiming this.
      I doubt people would stay if this was true.
      Perhaps the press should reserve these types of articles until a suit or charges are actually filed.
      I am still chuckling at the first publish of the article, which must have been written while watching a rerun of the sopranos!

    • Hillary

      It’s funny how every Italian is perceived to be connected to the mafia.

      It’s comical, because most Italians have white skin. Of course if this were not the case, the very same comments would be hate speech. Fueled, of course by the media’s first “hit job” article allowing the disgruntled employee to voice his unsubstantiated claims, and clear bias.

  • Mike

    Had a former schoolmate who worked at Vitale’s in the early 80’s and he witnessed someone get killed outside the pizza place. He had to go into witness protection for the rest of his life because people associated with “Vitale’s” wanted to make sure he never testified…Just look away and have a short memory…

  • Dissapointed

    You should change the picture because it was not the comstock park location being sued they all have different owners…. wood tv 8 should reprimanded for lying and juicing the story for better ratings. The owners of the comstock park location are good honest people and probably the best people I’ve ever worked for dont drag innocent people through the mud fox 17

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