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Ex-Harlem Restaurateur Gets Prison Time For $12M Ponzi Scheme

Hamlet Peralta will go behind bars for five years

Hudson River Cafe Foursquare

A former Harlem restaurateur, who swindled investors out of more than $12 million in a Ponzi scheme, will be heading to prison for five years.

Hamlet Peralta, former owner of now-shuttered waterfront restaurant Hudson River Cafe, pled guilty earlier this year to running a fake liquor business and using the millions that investors gave him for personal use, such as food, expensive clothes, and spa treatments.

On Friday, a judge sentenced Peralta to five years in prison and ordered him to pay more than $5 million in restitution, according to the Times. “The moral compass that you had was not pointing due north,” the judge said at the sentencing.

The restaurateur has been involved in a whirlwind of drama in the last year. Peralta was initially arrested last year as part of an NYPD corruption investigation. Authorities found that police and politicians frequently dined at Hudson River Cafe, and in exchange for free meals, Peralta received special treatment such as milder punishments for noise and public drinking complaints. Other investors in Peralta’s fake business allegedly gifted things like hotel rooms, private jets, and jewelry to officers for favors.

Hudson River Cafe closed in 2015. When it opened, it was one of the first on the Harlem waterfront.

The Hudson River Cafe

697 W 133rd St, New York, NY 10027 (212) 491-9111 Visit Website

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