Robert’s Restaurant owner ordered to pay $327,000 in restitution
June 25, 2015
The owner of Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar has been ordered to pay approximately $327,000 in restitution for a scheme in which he stole from a 99-year-old woman. [Tribune]
Robert Clouston, 51, received the restitution order last week and is due back in court Thursday to discuss the issue. Clouston previously pleaded no contest to two felony counts of theft from an elderly person with a special allegation of white-collar crime.
Last July, Clouston was sentenced to a year in jail. The San Luis Obispo County Jail website does not list him as currently in custody, though.
The elderly woman, Elizabeth Nelson, had appointed Clouston to be a trustee for her 17-acre property in Templeton with plans that he would develop the land and the money made would go to charity.
But, 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.
Nelson learned of the property transfer in November 2011 when a worker from the tax assessor’s office said a reappraisal occurred due to the transfer.
Prosecutors said Clouston planned to demolish Nelson’s home in order to develop the property. Nelson was not aware of the planned demolition of her home.
Clouston’s attorney Jordan Cunningham argued that his client was confused about the duties of a trustee. Clouston said after his sentencing that he did not steal anything and that he took out the loans in order to fulfil the goal of donating to charity, as well as to pay fees and conduct environmental studies.