Restaurant owner sentenced for fraud

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A Belle Vernon man who was found guilty of fraud, but not guilty of arson in the 2007 fire at the Chesapeake Steak and Seafood restaurant on Streets Run Road in Baldwin Borough, will get five years of probation, including eight months of home detention, U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose decided today.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney argued strenuously that Bryan K. Russo, 42, should get jail time for getting a fraudulent loan for chairs that he later claimed were destroyed in the fire. Mr. Sweeney said the chairs were never received by the restaurant, but Mr. Russo claimed they were lost, profiting by $28,000 in the transaction.

"I think this is a serious offense," said Judge Ambrose, saying fraud has "a profound effect on society as a whole, and on the economy." It was not, however, a violent offense, and Mr. Russo continues to work and support a mother and daughter.

Mr. Russo's co-defendant, loan broker Dennis M. Lint, pleaded guilty and got three years probation for his role. Mr. Russo's jury trial was held in January.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542


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