Celeb chef accused of stealing $14K from Bay Ridge restaurant offered delicious plea deal
The Bay Ridge celebrity chef accused of stealing more than $14,000 from a restaurant for which he was consulting was offered a sweet, no-jail plea deal Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Vincent Tropepe was arrested in February on charges that he falsified city documents claiming the restaurant he worked for — the Yemen Cafe — owed thousands in delinquent payments to the city. Tropepe told the restaurant that they owed higher fines than they actually did, and he pocketed the difference. He faces seven years in prison on the top charge.
But on Wednesday, prosecutors changed their tune, offering Tropepe just five years probation, along with four weeks of community service and full restitution of $14,220 to the Yemen Cafe over the course of his probation.
Tropepe did not have to accept or deny the plea deal Wednesday. He declined to comment on his case or plea offer outside court. His next court date is Aug. 21.
Tropepe originally made headlines in 2014, claiming to be the youngest person ever inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
In his official role for the Yemen Cafe, he appeared before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings on behalf of the restaurant. He also trained kitchen staff.
Between July and August of 2018, Tropepe appeared before OATH and claimed to have found delinquent violations at the restaurant, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney.
He negotiated lower fines at OATH, and paid those from his own business account. But when it came time to be reimbursed, Tropepe allegedly forged fraudulent city documents to get the restaurant to pay him more.
The owners of the cafe became suspicious and took the paperwork to OATH to see if it was legitimate, which OATH determined they were not.
In December, Tropepe allegedly demanded additional reimbursement for violations from the restaurant. The owners denied his request.
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