|By Hans (Hans) on Friday, March 12, 1999 - 06:00 pm: Edit|
TV Chef Admits To Restaurant Tip Scam
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Noted chef and cable TV personality David Ruggerio admitted in court Thursday that he inflated tips at his tony New York restaurant, including adding a $30,000 gratuity to a $1,000 dinner tab.
Ruggerio, 36, who owned the three-star ``David Ruggerio's'' in midtown Manhattan, pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in Manhattan Supreme Court.
He was arrested in November on charges of fraudulently submitting at least 26 inflated credit card transactions from patrons.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Brenda Soloff accepted Ruggerio's plea and directed him to make restitution of $140,000 to the credit card processing company, Paymentech Merchant Services, of Dallas.
She said Ruggerio would receive five years' probation and be ordered to do 500 hours of community service when he is sentenced on May 6.
Ruggerio had been charged with grand larceny and could have faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted on that charge.
Ruggerio's cable TV show, ``Ruggerio to Go,'' which premiered on the FoodNetwork in October, was canceled in late December. The restaurant has been closed since his arrest. Ruggerio, a former boxer, is also the author of the ``Little Italy Cookbook.''
At the time of Ruggerio's arrest, prosecutors said he stole $190,000. But Paymentech, which filed the complaint, says it now believes the amount was $140,000.
Prosecutors said Ruggerio would submit inflated credit card slips to Paymentech, which would wire money to the restaurant's account andseek reimbursement from the banks of restaurant customers and their credit card companies.
The transactions occurred between May 9 and June 22, 1998. Ruggerio's bookkeeper, Desmond Brush, also pleaded guilty on Thursday to attempted grand larceny. He faces the same penalties as Ruggerio.
A case is pending against restaurant maitre d' William Bart for allegedly helping Ruggerio and Brush in the scam.
|By Anonymous on Friday, March 12, 1999 - 09:26 pm: Edit|
As the saying goes:
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
I can not believe that he could have ever thought that he would not get caught. I sort of liked his cooking style, I'm not so sure I ever liked the way he presented his program. I am sure I wouldn't run my business like that.
All that business and it still wasn't enough? Maybe he got hit once too many times when he was in the ring? Or maybe it was just too hot in his kitchen? Either way he should count himself very lucky to get off with really only a slap on the wrist.
I'm sure some of the boys from the old neighborhood were hoping he was coming up to cook for them soon and they will be disappointed by the sentence he got too. I know it will be a long time before we see him on TV again, at least as a chef giving a cooking lesson.