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Restaurateur charged in tax theft pleads not guilty; trial set for February
The operator of restaurants in Kitsap and Jefferson counties who was charged with filing false tax returns last month has pleaded not guilty in Kitstap County Superior Court.
Rohn M. Rutledge, 47, was charged by the Financial Crimes Unit of the state Attorney General’s Office at the request of the state Department of Revenue on Nov. 11. Rutledge pleaded not guilty at a Dec. 6 hearing; an omnibus hearing is set for Jan. 26, and the trial is set for Feb. 21.
He is accused of felony theft of $463,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but never filed with the state. Rutledge previously told the Herald the charges are “not true.”
His attorney, Steven Olsen, said they are currently negotiating a plea with the attorney general. Olsen said he believes they will settle, but “I can’t rule out the possibility” of negotiations falling apart.
Rutledge operated the Main Street Ale House in Kingston and Olympic Timberhouse Restaurant in Quilcene between 2007 and 2010, during which time he repeatedly filed returns stating both businesses conducted no business. The Main Street Ale House subsequently was sold and is under new ownership.
According to charging papers, Rutledge has admitted that he deliberately falsified tax returns filed with the department because he was struggling to meet expenses and “knew of no way out of his dilemma.”
He currently owns Dockside Grill in Suquamish, renamed from Troller Bar and Grill in 2010.