Catering hall employers accused of recruiting OFWs for forced labor

NEW YORK — Two men, one of which is Filipino, are accused by federal authorities of recruiting immigrants from the Philippines to work for little or no pay at a historic catering hall.

Authorities say Ralph Colamussi — the former owner of the Thatched Cottage in Centerport, New York — and his former manager  Roberto Villanueva, recruited workers from the Philippines between 2008 and 2013, forced them illegally to pay upfront fees, and then paid them low or no wages.

Prosecutors say the two men forced the Filipino workers to live in a basement and threatened them with physical violence or deportation.

They face federal charges of conspiring to engage in forced labor of immigrants, visa fraud, and other counts.

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