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Bulgarian Student Starving in US, Fights with Cheating Employer

Date: 23.07.2010

Bulgarian student Valislav "Slavi" Stoyanov has been starving since arriving in America roughly two months ago because his Ocean City employer refuses to pay him, local media reported.

"For the past three weeks I've lived on 5 cents," Stoyanov told the Daily Times. "I lost 17 pounds of muscle because I all of a sudden stopped eating."

Stoyanov, 22, started working at Pizza Tugos on May 25 and said he has spent a majority of his time fighting owner Scott Heise for his paychecks.

"He told me it was illegal to pay me because I didn't have a Social Security number," Stoyanov said.

About a month ago, Heise gave Stoyanov a USD 650 advance that he used to pay half his rent at the Casa Mia Hotel in Fenwick Island.

After repeated requests for a paycheck, which he is supposed to receive every two weeks according to Maryland law, Stoyanov was fired July 11.

"The manager told me they had to let me go," he said. "I'm not the only one this has happened to. The others are too afraid to ask for their money because people have been fired (for doing so)."

Stoyanov required a police escort to collect a final paycheck July 13 in the amount of USD 499.52, which he said is roughly one-third of what he's owed.

"I told him he owes me USD 1,200 but he said this was all I get," Stoyanov said. "And he refused to show me my time cards."

Ocean City locals are assisting Stoyanov in collecting what he's owed and plan to file complaints with several agencies including the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the Worcester County Clerk's Office.

"This is the United States of America, and I'm innocent until proven guilty," the pizza owner said. "Print whatever you want.”

Heise has been in and out of Maryland's courts since 1990 as both plaintiff and defendant for various financial disputes.

Heise's claims that he could not pay Stoyanov due to his lack of a Social Security number are also unfounded, according to Bernie Kohn, a spokesman with Maryland DLLR.

Madalaine How, a volunteer with Ocean City's Seasonal Workforce Committee, said this is not the first time Heise has faced accusations of nonpayment.

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