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W.Va. man, wife face charges in restaurant embezzlement

December 28, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA.

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A man and woman were charged with embezzlement Tuesday after a local attorney told police he had evidence that more than $200,000 had been embezzled from the the former Spice Garden restaurant along U.S. 340 north of Charles Town, according to court records.

Iwayan Rudaska Rata and his wife, Janiss Rata, both were released on $10,000 personal recognizance bonds after they were arraigned in Jefferson County Magistrate Court.

Iwayan Rata, 54, of Inwood, W.Va., was charged with embezzlement, and Janiss Rata, age unavailable, of Charles Town, were charged with conspiracy to commit embezzlement, according to magistrate court records.

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Iwayan Rata and another man were partners in running the Spice Garden and each owned a share in the business through an entity know as Giagora Inc., according to court records.

Rata's wife, who also gave an address of 6523 Middleway Pike, Kearneysville, W.Va., was a shareholder in the business, but she was a silent partner and was never listed on the corporate certificate, court records show.

Iwayan Rata agreed to be responsible for accounting while the other partner was responsible for running the kitchen, court records said.

Greg Gough, the other partner in the business, said he met Iwayan Rata in 1994 at the Cliffside Inn near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., where Iwayan Rata was a chef, court records said.

The two became friends and Iwayan Rata indicated he would like to invest in and own a restaurant with his friend, court records said.

Gough said a man who was handling the restaurant's payroll approached him and told him Iwayan Rata had been stealing tax money, records allege.

Last year, West Virginia Trooper J. Long met with Charles Town attorney John Skinner, who was representing the other partner. Skinner said he uncovered numerous pieces of evidence he believed would prove that more than $200,000 had been embezzled from Giagora Inc., court records show.

Skinner said the alleged embezzlement started in 2000.

Iwayan Rata made all the bank deposits for the business, court records say.

The man who handled payroll said his wife, who also worked at the Spice Garden, would tell him how much money was made during a shift.

The payroll worker said he noticed a difference between what his wife would tell him had been earned and the amount actually deposited, court records show.

Skinner said he hired an accounting firm to conduct an investigation into the restaurant and it was determined that the total of money unaccounted for was $215,476, according to court records.

The Spice Garden is no longer in business.

The charge of embezzlement carries a possible punishment of one to 10 years in prison or up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.

Conspiracy to commit embezzlement carries a possible punishment of one to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000, court records say.

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