An owner of a Huntley diner under federal investigation for not paying employees for working overtime as required pleaded guilty this week to an unrelated battery charge, acknowledging that he “made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature” with a 17-year-old girl, according to McHenry County court documents.
After agreeing to a plea deal Monday, Ricky Tsakalios, 36, of Niles was sentenced to six months of court supervision and ordered by McHenry County Judge Mark Gerhardt to attend anger management classes. He also was ordered to pay $939 in fees and fines, according to McHenry County court documents.
In exchange for pleading guilty to an amended misdemeanor battery charge, three additional charges of battery that included the wording that he “caused bodily harm to (a) minor” were dismissed, according to court documents and his defense attorney, Dominic Buttitta.
“Mr. Tsakalios believed it to be in his best interest, and in the best interest of his family’s business, to resolve the matter without judgement or conviction being entered against him,” Buttitta said.
The charges stem from a former hostess, who was 17 at the time, who accused Tsakalios, the part owner of the Papa G’s restaurant in Huntley, of striking her, according to court records and an interview Thursday with the girl and her mother. The girl said she worked at the restaurant from August 2020 to May 2021.
The Northwest Herald agreed not to name the girl or her mother because the girl is the victim of a crime and was a minor at the time.
Buttitta said he and his client dispute the allegations “as stated by the alleged victim or her mother.” He said he did not think the state could have proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt had the case gone to trial.
Tsakalios was sentenced to six months of supervision, which means if he successfully completes that, the charge will be dismissed.
The teenager’s mother confronted Tsakalios on May 28, 2021, at the restaurant after seeing marks on the girl’s arm, the mother said. She then went to the Huntley Police Department, where she told an officer that Tsakalios had been harassing her daughter at work, according to a police report. Tsakalios was subsequently charged with battery, according to police reports and court documents.
The girl, now 18, is preparing to go away to college and said she has put this incident behind her.
“I pretty much moved on from it,” she said.
She encouraged others who may be in a similar situation in the workplace to take action and seek justice for themselves.
“Stand up for yourself,” she said. “That is what I really learned from this. Be firm with boundaries with other employees and bosses. It just was wrong at the end of the day.”
The U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the restaurant’s employment and pay practices is complete, said Scott Allen, regional director for public affairs and media relations for the department.
“The department filed a lawsuit, which sets forth the violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act that we are pursuing against Papa G’s,” Allen said. “The next step is for the defendants to file their answer to our complaint.”
The department found that the restaurant owners allegedly failed to pay eight of its employees the required one-and-a-half overtime rate when they worked more than 40 hours in a week, according to the complaint and a memorandum submitted in support of a restraining order request.
In June, the U.S. Labor Department filed an injunction against Ricky Tsakalios and his father, Steve Tsakalios, who co-own the restaurant, because investigators said they were threatening their employees in an attempt to get them to not cooperate with the investigation.