Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Chef Roberto Donna pleads guilty to keeping meals taxes in Arlington

Renowned restaurateur and chef Roberto Donna pleaded guilty Thursday in Arlington County to embezzlement for failing to turn over more than $150,000 in meals taxes he collected from diners at his now-defunct restaurant in Crystal City.

Donna, 49, opened Bebo Trattoria da Roberto Donna on Crystal Drive in October 2006, one of several restaurants he has overseen in the area, including Galileo, Laboratorio and Osteria. Bebo Trattoria closed last year.

Arlington officials said Bebo Trattoria was turning in required paperwork showing the restaurant was collecting meals taxes from patrons -- it just wasn't turning in the money.

Efforts to collect the money, which Arlington prosecutors said totaled $156,330.96, failed, and a criminal investigation was begun.

Rather than face indictment and arrest, Donna and his attorneys worked out a deal in which Donna would waive indictment and plead guilty to one felony count of embezzlement. Arlington Circuit Court Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick imposed a five-year prison sentence on Donna but suspended all of that time and placed him on probation for five years. Donna also must make restitution of the unpaid tax money.

In a news release from the Arlington commonwealth's attorney's office, Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary said, “I hope that this serves as a wake-up call to the other restaurants on our list. Not turning in meals tax revenues is not a tax matter -- it’s a crime.”

Shortly after Bebo Trattoria closed last year, area foodies were waiting for him to reopen a restaurant in the District, and some wondered whether his financial problems were causing the delay. A restaurant industry merchant told the City Paper that it would happen, commenting, “Roberto went to culinary school, not accounting school.”

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  June 3, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington , Financial Crimes , From the Courthouse , Tom Jackman  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Md. highway worker killed in hit-and-run ignored protocols, authorities say
Next: Oxon Hill man gets 25-year sentence in murder

Comments

Donna has also had myriad run ins like this and out of court settlements, OEO,INS types and the like, over the years. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. One of his favorite early scams was to bring folks over from Italy, pay them less then starvation wages under the table and then hold the threat of the IRS and deportation over their heads.

Donna’s claim to fame was mostly that he was the “other” of Rhyllis Richman’s niece, a certifiable two-bagger, and Richman made him a star to the detrement of the restaurant scene as a whole. Of course Richman set the restaurant industry in this town back twenty years doing it but that is another story. You'll note things got a whole lot better when she was put out to pasture. Truth was Donna’s talent was marginal and his intellectual capacity that of a pile of pig dung – he appeals mostly to the pretentious but don’t know any better set – but that was okay by Phyllis Richman because the only criteria by which she could judge, given how little about food she actually knew, was how many free cups of coffee were served after dinner.

Lets all lift a glass of good cheer and give Roberta Donna a hearty "good riddance!" He'll be very happy in jail.

Posted by: SoCali | June 3, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

No jail time:
"Rather than face indictment and arrest, Donna and his attorneys worked out a deal in which Donna would waive indictment and plead guilty to one felony count of embezzlement. Arlington Circuit Court Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick imposed a five-year prison sentence on Donna but suspended all of that time and placed him on probation for five years. Donna also must make restitution of the unpaid tax money."

Posted by: Sharon_59 | June 4, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Supervised probation?

Posted by: jckdoors | June 4, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Has DC audited him for payments owed to the District?

Posted by: lisaswanson | June 4, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

“Roberto went to culinary school, not accounting school.”

So THAT's where they teach you how to attach your check to the return!

Posted by: HT12 | June 4, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company