By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The owners of the soon-to-close Violi's Restaurant are being investigated by the state attorney general's office because of an April accident that mangled a teenager’s arm, according to their attorney.
A friend of the owners is asking people who know them to write letters of support to provide a full picture of the community-minded business.
"Right now, they're not charged with anything," said Dan Pease, who is representing brothers Dominick and Ross Violi, who own the Center Street dining establishment.
A spokesperson from the attorney general’s office confirmed the probe.
“All we can say is we are aware of the incident and the matter is under investigation,” according to the attorney general’s deputy press secretary Casey Aguglia.
When asked if the investigation could lead to criminal charges further down the road, Pease answered "It's possible, yes.
"I don't want to speculate. All I can say at this point is there's been no court appearance and no charges … it's at the investigate and negotiate stage … we're in negotiations with counsel," Pease said. He said that by "counsel" he means an assistant attorney general from the labor division of the top state prosecutor's office.
Dominick Violi said they have also hired the Hancock Eastabrook law firm of Syracuse.
The Violis are under scrutiny because of an April 26 accident where a 17-year-old employee's arm was severed while cleaning a pasta machine. Brett Bouchard underwent several surgeries and had the limb reattached at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. The story received national attention. Bouchard had recovered to the point that he was able to walk with his graduating high school class in June.
Since then Paul Jeser, a friend of the Violi brothers, has been asking people to write letters in their favor to the state attorney general.
"After almost 70 years of being a respected steward to the North Country, the Violi family is experiencing a legal battle with the partial aim of criminalizing the men who have contributed a great deal to the region," Jeser says.
"Dominick and Ross Violi have not only been passionate business folks, they have also been there for those who have been in need of assistance. Whether it is raising funds for the local Hospice, the Louisville Fire Department, Trinity Catholic School, Massena Memorial Hospital or the Remington Museum, these men have never wavered in their commitment to assist others."
Last week, the Violi brothers announced that the restaurant would serve its last meal on Sept. 27.
"My next birthday, I'll be 80 and my brother is 76. He's wanted to retire. My wife wanted me to retire. I guess it was just time," Violi said last week in a phone interview.
He noted that "business has been very, very slow" since the horrific accident.
The restaurant was founded by their parents in 1945.