An Irish restaurant owner faces up to four years in jail after failing to pay staff at his Times Square steakhouse more than $100,000 in wages and other earnings.

Dublin born Paul Hurley has been charged by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with failure to pay 54 employees the money.

They had worked without wages for over four months as the restaurant prepared to open and once it began serving customers according to the New York Daily News website.

Schneiderman announced the charges against Hurley, the owner of Desmond’s Steakhouse & Grill in Times Square.

Hurley was arrested Wednesday and charged with short-changing his workers to the tune of $100,000, the attorney general said.

The report says the 48-year-old owner of Desmond’s Steakhouse & Grill on 7th Avenue failed to pay wages to workers who were hired at various stages during its opening.

A press release from Schneiderman says Hurley faces a felony count of scheme to defraud - among other criminal charges - for failing to pay proper wages to 54 of his workers, totalling more than $100,000.

Hurley had promised workers they would be paid in the future to induce them to continue working without wages, the AG said.

He also faces charges that stem from filing a false application for workers’ compensation insurance. The report says that, if convicted, Hurley faces up to four years in prison.

Attorney General Schneiderman said: “The most basic right of an employee is the right to be paid for work.

“Failure to pay legal wages is a crime and when the facts warrant it, my office will vigorously prosecute those who are guilty of breaking the law.”

New Rochelle resident Hurley is the sole owner of Desmond’s Steakhouse & Grill. Hurley at first hired controversial irish chef Conrad Gallagher who then quit. Crain’s new York reported that Hurley spent $2 million to open the restaurant but immediately ran into problems.

The AG said employees were hired from October 2012 through February to prepare the restaurant for opening that month. After the restaurant opened, employees worked for weeks without pay.

Employees, including managers, chefs, administrative staff and servers, were owed more than $100,000 by the beginning of April of this year according to the AG’s calculations.

Hurley had  promised his employees that he would pay them and asked them to stay on without pay but many of his employees quit in April.