EVERETT — The state attorney general has accused the owner of a recently closed downtown Everett wedding venue of stealing wages from his employees.
Located at 1507 Wall St., the historic Monte Cristo Ballroom provided an all-inclusive wedding service, with food, drinks, decorations and even dresses. It was named Best Wedding Venue in The Herald’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards before it closed suddenly in October.
The lawsuit alleges that the company’s owner, Anthony Reeves, illegally took more than $12,000 from employees between December 2016 and April 2019. The case was filed Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court by the state Department of Labor and Industries and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The owner deducted a $2.99 meal charge from his employees’ paychecks, according to the complaint. Allegedly, the deductions were in exchange for allowing workers to eat extra food from catered events. But the money was taken without permission, and whether or not they had actually eaten any food, the lawsuit says.
In all, 156 employees were affected, encompassing 4,100 shifts.
“While the amount of money taken from individual workers each shift may seem relatively small, in the end it added up to thousands of dollars that should have gone to employees and their families and not into the owner’s pockets,” Labor and Industries director Joel Sacks said.
Labor and Industries negotiated a settlement with Reeves in September, according to a news release, but he never signed the final document. The agreement would have set out a payment schedule through October 2020.
The Monte Cristo Ballroom appears to have a history of financial missteps.
Since 2015, employees have reported an additional $3,300 in lost wages through complaints unrelated to the meal charges, according to Labor and Industries. The company also owes $21,000 in missed workers compensation payments going back to 2018. And on Dec. 5, the state Department of Revenue filed a tax warrant to collect $45,000 from the business.
In October, those looking to be married at the Monte Cristo received no warning that they would have to change their plans. Instead, they received a text message, saying the business was closing because of decline in the owner’s health. “We can not express how sorry we are,” the message said. There was no further update on how customers would get their money back. At least one couple has filed a civil lawsuit.
Everett Police officer Aaron Snell said the department received multiple complaints regarding the venue’s abrupt closure. Police are currently investigating, Snell said.
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @zachariahtb.
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