Owner of the now-shuttered Hudson River Cafe allegedly duped investors of $12 million by convincing them to put cash into a fake liquor business, the Daily News reports. Hamlet Peralta, who was arrested in Georgia on Thursday, was being investigated as part of an NYPD corruption probe. Police frequently dined at his Harlem restaurant — a relationship that led to lax enforcement for noise and public drinking issues, as well as tips on when the State Liquor Authority planned inspections.
But Peralta, 36, had issues of his own. Federal prosecutors say the restaurateur created a fake liquor business and collected $12 million from investors in the process. He ended up spending just $700,000 on booze and spent the rest on personal expenses like expensive clothes, spa treatments, and food. One investor, who was a regular at the restaurant, was promised a 4 percent return on his more than $3.5 million investment.
Hudson River Cafe closed last year. It was one of the first new restaurants to open near the river, according to local blog Harlem Bespoke. In addition to facing criminal charges, Peralta faces a civil lawsuit from four former employees, who say he owes them tens of thousands of dollars in wages, the Daily News writes. He could receive up to 20 years in federal prison.