The owner of a popular Brooklyn restaurant that closed abruptly and left dozens of couples without a wedding venue was sentenced Monday to up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud and grand larceny.
Jason Stevens, the owner of reBar, pleaded guilty to the charges last month. As part of a plea deal, he was sentenced to three and a third to 10 years in prison.
"I have nothing left to give but an apology. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry," Stevens said in court.
He's also been ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution, to be split among the nearly 100 couples who were shut out of the weddings they'd paid for at reBar when the venue closed without warning in May.
His lawyer, Allan Bahn, has said the 41-year-old Stevens is "taking responsibility."
In addition to stiffing couples out of their wedding money, prosecutors say he stole about $200,000 in sales tax collected between 2009 and 2012 and failed to collect more than $1 million in taxes on the business the same period.
Newlywed Camille Hlavka, of Astoria, was in the Brooklyn courtroom as Stevens was sentenced. She says she lost $18,000 to him and ended up shelling out about that much for her July 12 wedding. She says she and her husband will probably never recover the money Stevens owes under the state-imposed restitution settlement, but believes justice was at least partially served by his sentencing.
Another jilted couple, Jennifer Cabrera and Kitoh Grey, said they could only afford a small wedding in Central Park after losing their $13,000 deposit to Stevens, but are looking forward. They said seeing him being led away in handcuffs at least brought some sort of closure.
"We got married, we had a perfect day," said Grey. "We're moving on with our lives and whatever he wants to do with his life, it doesn't affect us anymore."