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Chicago-Area Pizzeria Owner Allegedly Used Shoe Camera to Film Young Female Employees

The owner of Parmesans Wood Stone Pizza allegedly took thousands of unauthorized photos and videos of his employees, possibly over more than a decade, according to a new lawsuit

A large brick restaurant exterior with cars parked in front.
Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Thursday in Cook County circuit court.
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Eight female plaintiffs, some of them minors, are suing their 59-year-old former supervisor alleging he secretly took thousands of up-skirt photos and videos of them while they worked at his three suburban Chicago pizzerias. Michael Papandrea allegedly captured the images using cameras installed in the tops of his shoes.

Illinois State Police has raided Papandrea’s Frankfort restaurant in March 2020. They arrested and charged him with unauthorized video recording. In that raid, the lawsuit — filed Thursday in Cook County court — alleges state troopers found more than 24,000 similarly inappropriate photographs and videos that appear to span more than 10 years taken at the Frankfort restaurant

The claims stem from incidents at Parmesans Wood Stone Pizza in Frankfort. Papandrea also owns Parmesans Station in Tinley Park in Will County, where prosectors made similar allegations back in July. He and wife Maryann Papandrea also own a third Parmesans restaurant in Matteson.

While supervising workers in Frankfort, the lawsuit alleges that Papandrea stood close to them and recorded footage using a camera mounted to his shoes that he controlled with smartphone app. “Obviously they’ve all been horrified to find out their privacy was stolen like that,” says attorney David A. Axelrod, who is representing the eight plaintiffs.

A computer forensic expert hired by the plaintiffs found nearly 2,000 videos from the shoe recorder alone, plus another 14 from a camera placed above a restroom toilet, according to the lawsuit. Other footage was apparently recorded in places like other restaurants, offices, and malls. Investigators estimate there could be at least 500 more victims.

The incidents occurred from 2012 to 2020, according to the lawsuit. Restaurant employees inadvertently discovered numerous up-skirt videos while using a computer at one of Papandrea’s establishments and promptly reported their discovery to police, Axelrod says.

Papandrea faces similar allegations in Will County. In July prosectors charged him with 17 counts of videotaping through clothes; 12 counts are related to employees under 18 years old. Two months later, another four female ex-employees filed suit in Will County circuit court alleging they were also filmed. The case was dismissed without prejudice in late December, according to court records.

A court appearance took place on Sunday in Will County, with the next scheduled for April 22. A Cook County court case has yet to be scheduled. Papandrea’s attorney, Douglas DeBoer has not yet responded to a request for comment.

  • Frankfort restaurant owner accused of covertly filming up-skirt videos of young female employees faces new lawsuit by 8 workers. Expert hired by attorneys say videos may show 500 more women and girls. [Tribune]
  • Ex-Employees Sue Accused Frankfort Business Owner [Patch]