Rutledge pleads guilty to filing false sales tax returns; will pay $774K restitution

Rohn Rutledge ... Kingston restaurateur pleads guilty to filing false tax returns, agrees to pay $774,000 in restitution.  - File photo
Rohn Rutledge ... Kingston restaurateur pleads guilty to filing false tax returns, agrees to pay $774,000 in restitution.
— image credit: File photo

KINGSTON — The operator of restaurants in Kitsap and Jefferson counties pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing false tax returns to cover up the felony theft of nearly $463,000 in sales tax he collected from customers.

Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Russell Hartman deferred sentencing of Rohn M. Rutledge, 47, to give him time to make $774,219 in restitution, including penalties and interest. Rutledge agreed to a payment plan, and agreed that grounds existed for an exceptional sentence above a standard sentencing range of 12 to 14 months.

The charges were brought by the Financial Crimes Unit of the state Attorney General’s Office at the request of the state Department of Revenue.

According to charging papers, Rutledge operated the Main Street Ale House in Kingston and Olympic Timber House Restaurant in Quilcene between 2007 and 2010, during which time he filed state tax returns stating neither operation did any business. The Main Street Ale House subsequently was sold and is under new ownership. Rutledge still owns Dockside Grill in Suquamish.

Rutledge earlier admitted to investigators that he deliberately falsified tax returns because he was struggling to meet expenses. However, he pleaded not guilty at a Dec. 6 hearing.

Rutledge could have received up to 10 years in prison. Rutledge’s attorney, Steven Olsen of Bainbridge, said it’s likely Rutledge will serve 30 days in jail after paying back the money, with interest, over a 10-year period.

He will make his first monthly payment on March 15. He’ll have his first review hearing in September, Olsen said. Review hearings will be held periodically to make sure Rutledge is making payments and complying with the court order.

“He’s going to be paying (the equivalent of a) mortgage payment for a good portion of his life,” Olsen said. “On the one hand, he’s in a financial hole he’s not going to get out of. On the other hand, he will be there while his kids are growing up.”

Olsen said Rutledge got behind financially when a restaurant he owned in Eldon, a Hood Canal town in Mason County, burned in 2005.

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