A Sydney multi-millionaire boss who runs acclaimed Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg’s burger chain in Australia is set to fight charges he assaulted an employee, as he claims he is the true victim of the alleged incident.
Sam Mustaca, 42, holds the Australian partnership in the Wahlburgers franchise alongside his 80-year-old Calabrian-born father Roy and also owns and operates Sydney’s United Cinemas chain.
But both the successful businessman and Wahlburgers are now at the centre of a publicity disaster after he was charged with common assault.
Mustaca pleaded not guilty to allegedly attacking Jaun-Paul Kalman, 41, during his shift at the hamburger joint’s Circular Quay store in March when he faced Downing Centre Local Court in November.
Mr Kalman was employed as a bar manager for the restaurant when it opened its first store in Sydney in February, near Mustaca’s Opera Quay’s cinema.
Sam Mustaca, 42, (pictured with his wife) has been charged with allegedly assaulting an employee at Wahlburgers
Pictured: The Wahlburger franchise in Opera Quay, where Mr Kalman was employed for around six weeks from February to March this year
Mustaca and his father Roy signed a $50million licensing deal with the Wahlbergs to open their chain in Australia. Pictured: Mark Wahlberg
It will be alleged Mustaca injured Mr Kalman’s wrist during a dispute in a meeting about wages.
But a spokesperson claimed Mustaca was actually the one who was attacked during the incident and the businessman would be ‘vigorously’ defending the charge.
‘Sam Mustaca met with a male employee to address serious issues relating to his behaviour towards other staff in the presence of customers and issues regarding poor work performance,’ the spokesperson said.
‘During this meeting, the man [allegedly] assaulted Sam Mustaca who later required medical attention.
‘The man’s employment was subsequently terminated, and he was asked to immediately leave the premises. Following the incident, police were called, and the former employee was arrested nearby.
‘As the matter is before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.’
Jaun-Paul Kalman (pictured) was allegedly assaulted by his former boss
Mr Kalman confirmed to Daily Mail Australia he was initially questioned and arrested by police but was released.
Mustaca was charged in October following further police inquiries.
Mr Kalman also confirmed he was charged with possessing a knife in public, which he said was for his bonsai tree hobby and happened to be in his backpack at the time.
That matter was dealt with in court as a technical breach with no conviction recorded.
The father-of-two said he is now living off worker’s compensation due to injuries allegedly sustained during the incident.
The Mustaca family are well-known among Australia’s elite, with patriarch Roy forging a foothold in the nation’s business scene when he founded United Cinemas in 1986.
Roy – known as ‘Rocco’ – is a renowned singer and composer who began his career in the entertainment industry from the age of eight before opening 10 movie venues across Sydney and Melbourne.
Famed for his Elvis-style hair and shimmering metallic stage outfits, Roy still performs regularly, with one of his hits – ‘God Kill The Coronavirus’ – previously airing during pre-show advertising at his cinemas.
His son is also no stranger to the spotlight, with Mustaca previously in the headlines in March last year over a court battle between his property development company and residents over a leaking roof at the Bellagio Apartments.
Mustaca flaunts his life of luxury online – sharing photos of him spending time with his family at lavish formal events, posing up against sports cars, and miggling with celebrities.
Pictures littered throughout his social media show him rubbing shoulders with famous Australians including presenter Richard Wilkins and radio personalities Kyle Sandilands and Bruno Bouchet.
But behind the scenes, insiders say the Wahlberg-Mustaca operation is not running smoothly – despite launching with glowing publicity earlier this year.
Sources told Daily Mail Australia the business has experienced high staff turnover.
There are currently three outlets in Australia – Byron Bay, Sydney, and the Gold Coast – with the chain slated to eventually boast 20 stores total nationwide, including branches in Perth and Brisbane.
In October, as the company opened its new store in Surfers Paradise, Mark Wahlberg made a video praising the Mustacas’ for their efforts.
‘A quick shout out to our team in Australia, the Mustaca family, our third location is now open,’ the Mile 22 actor said.
‘Thank you guys and congratulations. Many more to come. From the Wahlberg family to yours – God bless you.’