The owner of a Brooklyn wedding venue that abruptly shut down last week after allegedly becoming bankrupt has been arrested on multiple tax fraud charges, authorities say.
Jason Stevens, the owner of reBar in DUMBO, was arraigned Thursday on tax fraud and grand larceny charges, among others, for allegedly not paying business taxes from 2009 through 2012, the Brooklyn district attorney's office said.
The charges are not related to reBar's closure last week, which left 200 couples scrambling. The state attorney's general office is looking into that case.
Stevens was released on $30,000 bond. Attorney information for him was not immediately available.
Christian Pascarella, one of the dozens of jilted couples who had planned a wedding there, said he had no idea the business was being investigated when the nuptials were being planned.
"If you know that there are already complaints against somebody, how do you let other people, other couples who saved their hard-earned money like we did, go and hand this man a check?" he said. "You should have put a warning out there, there should have been something to let the public know that maybe this place is a little shady and to do a little investigation before you actually book this place."
While Pascarella and other customers were happy to hear of Stevens' arrest, they say it doesn't give them back their weddings.
"We want him to pay us back," Pascarella said. "He stole our money, so he needs to serve his time in jail and pay us back."
But contract attorney Rubin Ferzinger said it's highly unlikely they'll ever see that money again.
"Most people who steal don't have any money," he said. "So the money is gone before you get there, and if the money isn't gone, it's gone to their attorney to defend them on the prosecution of these charges."
Employees at reBar arrived last Friday to find the restaurant chained and locked, despite two weddings scheduled that weekend. Sous chef Kevono Hunt said he called one of the managers, who told him "the restaurant is closed and bankrupt."
Executive chef Mark Lukasik said there were about 50 people working at the venue, and they were all devastated for the couples whose weddings were thrown into limbo.