Portola Valley restaurateur to be released on lowered bail


Portola Valley resident and restaurateur Russell Howard Deutsch went before a judge Friday (March 25) in a San Mateo County courtroom to request that he be released from county jail on $290,000 bail. His request was granted after the court concluded that the money used to post bail was from a legitimate source.

Mr. Deutsch's release was contingent upon whether he could prove that the source of the money he would use to pay his bail -- typically 10 percent of the total -- is legitimate, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Mr. Deutsch, who owns the Old Port Lobster Shack at the Ladera Country Shopper in Ladera and other restaurants, is charged with tax evasion, grand theft and fraud, including failing to pay $950,628 in taxes owed to the state over an eight-year period.

On March 22, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, prosecutors said.

Judge Elizabeth Hill lowered Mr. Deutsch's bail to $290,000 from $950,000 on Thursday (March 24), a decision that prosecutors opposed, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

During a search of Mr. Deutsch's Portola Valley home, investigators found more than $600,000 in cash in addition to numerous business records, prosecutors said.

If money used to pay bail is considered stolen, it will be considered ineligible as a resource, Mr. Wagstaffe said. If the resource is property, attorneys from the County Counsel's Office will need time to evaluate the property for its legitimacy, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors identified Mr. Deutsch, 57, as the CEO, CFO, director and agent for a corporation that does business as Old Port Lobster Shack, Lobster Shack and Portola Valley Lobster Shack.

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