Saratoga County

Pair can avoid jail by paying $175K in restitution

The former longtime chef and part-owner of a popular Saratoga Springs restaurant pleaded guilty toda
LaPosta and Kruger
LaPosta and Kruger

The former longtime chef and part-owner of a popular Saratoga Springs restaurant pleaded guilty today to stealing money from the venture.

John LaPosta, 52, of 739 Grooms Road, Rexford, who was head chef at Maestro’s at the Van Dam on Broadway, pleaded guilty to a single second-degree grand larceny charge before Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III.

His partner, Tina M. Kruger, 55, of the same address, pleaded guilty to a single count of petty larceny, a misdemeanor.

They will both avoid jail time and be placed on five years’ probation if they pay $175,000 in restitution by their sentencing on June 16.

They told the court they have the resources to repay the money. LaPosta could face 15 years in prison if they don’t come up with the cash. Kruger could face local jail time.

LaPosta was head chef and part-owner of Maestro’s, which was celebrated for its food between its launch in 2008 and when it closed last year. Kruger was manager, with an ownership stake.

The thefts took place between May 2011 and July 2014, according to prosecutors.

District Attorney Karen A. Heggen said the couple “developed an elaborate scheme in which they funneled funds and payments due to the restaurant business into accounts that were opened and controlled by LaPosta and Kruger individually.”

Heggen said payments for items like gift cards, deposits for catering events and cash were diverted into the personal accounts.

The couple was arrested by state police in April 2015 after an extensive investigation. Heggen said money sometimes passed through several accounts, making it hard to determine the actual amount of the theft. Heggen said the amount of restitution was based on the amount of theft that could be proven.

LaPosta and Kruger were indicted last year on two counts of second-degree and third-degree grand larceny, and three counts each of second-degree forgery and first-degree falsifying of business records.

Their lawyers had said the allegations brought to police by another partner in the restaurant stem from a business dispute.

Heggen praised the efforts of Assistant District Attorney Charles O. Bucca, who prosecuted.

“Mr. Bucca worked tirelessly pouring over countless boxes of documents to put together a solid, understandable case,” she said.

LaPosta and Kruger have both been free on bail. Since state police brought charges, LaPosta and Kruger have opened a new restaurant, Innovo Kitchen, in Latham, to generally favorable reviews.

Robbery sentence

Also in County Court today, Damien G. Sierra-Rodriguez, 21, of Partridge Street, Albany, was sentenced to 61⁄2 years in prison, and five years’ post-release supervision.

Sierra-Rodriguez pleaded guilty in March to second-degree robbery. He was one of two men accused of robbing a GNC store in Clifton Park on March 22, 2015.

Categories: -News-, Business, Schenectady County

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