NYC workers strip searched in hunt for ‘stolen’ money

A group of grocery store workers claim they were strip searched, threatened with deportation and fired after an irate manager falsely accused them of stealing a customer’s cash.

“Show me the money! Where is the money?” the furious boss at Chestnut Supermarket in South Williamsburg allegedly screamed during the April 5 ordeal, according to a lawsuit.

Three employees were suddenly hauled into an office one-by-one, locked in, and “berated, called names, assaulted and battered” by supervisor Joel Epstein, they charged in the Manhattan Supreme Court litigation.

The steaming mad manager claimed he had each of the workers on surveillance video in a bathroom where a female customer had apparently left a pile of cash she’d gotten from the store’s money-lending business.

Epstein first claimed it was $1,400 in lost cash, then said $1,500 had been taken before putting the dollar amount at $1,700, according to the legal filing.

When worker Francisca Orduna was brought into the office, Epstein allegedly shouted, “You f–king bitch, take off your clothes!”

Chestnut Supermarket storefront
A group of workers claims they were berated and threatened with deportation by managers at Chestnut Supermarket.
Helayne Seidman

Orduna refused to strip and began recording Epstein, who pushed her against a wall and snatched her phone, she claims in the legal filing against the market, Epstein and others.

In addition to Orduna, Emanuel Rodriguez Quintana and Luis Dominguez were also ordered to remove clothing so bosses could check for the missing money, according to court papers, which said three other workers who witnessed the incident and refused to lie about it were later canned.

Luis Dominguez
Luis Dominguez said he was fired after bosses asked if he would “support the store,” and he told them, “I am on the side of the truth.”
Brian Zak/NY Post
Teodoro Santos
Teodoro Santos said he stood up to Joel Epstein at Chestnut Supermarket when they allegedly harassed a coworker.
Brian Zak/NY Post


Francisca Orduna
Francisca Orduna refused to remove her clothing when Epstein demanded she strip so they could search for a customer’s stolen cash.
Brian Zak/NY Post
Maria Orduna
Maria Orduna is suing after she claims she was harassed by Epstein at Chestnut Supermarket.
Brian Zak/NY Post


The workers, who are seeking unspecified damages, were “openly dehumanized,” their lawyers said in a statement.

“Can you imagine being treated that way at work?” said attorneys Kristina Mazzochi and Megan Goddard.

A store manager declined comment. Epstein could not be reached.