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Schneiderman: Bronx Papa John's Franchise Owner Pleads Guilty In Wage-Theft Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The owner of nine Papa John's pizza franchises in the Bronx has pleaded guilty to not paying employees minimum wage and trying to avoid paying for overtime.

Abdul Jamil Khokhar was arrested in connection with the alleged theft of wages from his workers, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. Khokhar turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning, the attorney general said.

"Employees were told to clock in under a fake name for their overtime hours," Schneiderman explained.

Bronx Papa John's Franchise Owner In Custody In Wage-Theft Case

Later Wednesday, Khokhar pleaded guilty to in the case. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 21, Schneiderman's office said.

As part of the plea, Khokhar will be sentenced to 60 days in jail and will pay $230,000 in back wages to the employees, Schneiderman's office said.

It was the first criminal case by Schneiderman's office against a fast-food franchise owner over alleged wage theft.

Schneiderman has a message for fast food owners, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"If you steal wages, you will be held accountable and you can go to jail."

A call and email to Khokar's attorney seeking comment were not immediately returned.

In March, Schneiderman obtained a judgment against a different Papa John's franchise owner in Harlem that also allegedly underpaid hundreds of workers. The judgment ordered New Majority Holdings LLC and owner and operator Ronald Johnson to pay $2.12 million.

Schniederman said then that unscrupulous employers count on workers being afraid to speak out, especially if they are undocumented immigrants.

"Every time workers come forward here and speak up, it gives courage to others," he said.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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