Robert’s Restaurant owner sentenced to one year for theft
July 29, 2014
The owner of Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Paso Robles was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail for stealing from a 99-year-old woman.
Robert Clouston, 50, pleaded no contest to two felony counts of theft from an elderly person with a special allegation of white-collar crime. Even so, following his sentencing Clouston continued to claim he had borrowed money from Elizabeth Nelson in order to help Nelson donate money to charity.
Nelson had appointed Clouston to be a trustee for her 17 acre property in Templeton, with plans that Clouston would develop the land and moneys made would be donated to charity.
In June 2008, Clouston removed the 17-acre parcel from a trust he jointly owned with the elderly woman and placed it in an LLC without her knowledge. Clouston had sole ownership of the LLC.
After the transfer, Clouston allegedly took out two hard money loans against the property. He first borrowed $425,000 against the property to pay off bills and development fees. He then took out more than $500,000 and spent it on his three restaurants; Estrella and Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Paso Robles and Robert’s Restaurant and Bar in Arroyo Grande.
The woman learned of the property transfer in November 2011 when a San Luis Obispo County Tax Assessor’s Office worker said that a reappraisal occurred due to the transfer.
Clouston’s attorney Jordan Cunningham argued that his client was confused about the duties of a trustee.
Prosecutors countered by saying the crimes were not committed over a brief period of time demonstrating Clouston’s acts were purposeful.
After sentencing Clouston to one year, Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy ordered Clouston to surrender himself to the San Luis Obispo County Jail on Sept. 12.