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Posted at 3:50 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Famed D.C. chef loses court battle

By Spencer S. Hsu and J. Freedom du Lac

Eighty-six the good news.

Less than two months after Roberto Donna reopened his flagship restaurant, Galileo, and got back to the kitchen after spending much of the previous year and a half stewing in courtrooms and law offices, the renowned Italian chef has been served another enormous helping of trouble.

Chief U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled in a 46-page opinion Friday that Donna must pay nearly $527,000 to 11 former employees who'd filed a federal lawsuit against their former boss over unpaid wages and tips. The 11 plaintiffs -- nearly all of them busboys and waiters -- worked for Donna at Galileo, the upscale Washington dining room that closed in 2006, and at Bebo Trattoria, a more casual Crystal City restaurant that closed in April 2009.

Lamberth had ruled that Donna violated minimum wage and overtime requirements and should be held personally liable.

It was the second major blow to Donna in the past month. On Nov. 4, the James Beard Award-winning chef pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement in Arlington County Circuit Court after collecting meal taxes at Bebo but neglecting to turn them over to the state. He received a five-year suspended sentence -- and a bill of $375,439.56.

By Spencer S. Hsu and J. Freedom du Lac  | December 3, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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I love how Judge Lamberth looks after the little guys.

Take that you future celeb chef wannabes.

Posted by: Georgetwoner | December 3, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

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