A former Parrott House employee was arrested on suspicion of more than 60 criminal charges, including first-degree theft and aggravated identity theft, after he allegedly used the restaurant’s bank account to pay off his credit card, according to court documents filed last month.
Police contacted Matthew Luke Barnes, 36, on Feb. 20 after receiving a call from the restaurant’s owner, Heidi Lael. Lael said she recently discovered Barnes had been using her business bank account to pay off his credit card statement and other online bills.
Lael, who was working with her accountant and personal banker, located 19 payments being made to creditors in Barnes’ name and more than $5,000 in cash that had been taken by the employee over time, according to court documents.
Barnes acted confused when police questioned him about the payments, according to court documents. He said the accounts must have been linked by accident and said one of the banks required he verify his income. He suggested the Parrott House’s account and routing numbers may have been attached to his account by mistake.
The officer asked to see Barnes’ online bank account, to further investigate the alleged fraud. Barnes agreed, but after he was unable to find a charger to boot up his computer, the officer arrested him and lodged him in the Douglas County Jail.
Barnes was lodged on more than 61 counts but was later indicted by a grand jury on eight counts: aggravated identity theft, first-degree theft and six counts of a computer crime. All eight are felonies.
The Parrott House has had a rather eventful history given its relatively short existence. The building itself was purchased in 2011 by Lael who turned it into a fine dining restaurant equipped with its own bourbon bar that opened in 2017.
About a year later, the restaurant closed unexpectedly, laying off its 20-some employees while maintenance and repairs were made to the freshly remodeled 127-year-old home.
Parrott House closed for now temporarily closes for maintenance
Just days after the business reopened, a man was arrested for breaking into the restaurant and attempting to get away with several steaks, a Red Bull energy drink, a restaurant napkin and more than $1,000 in cash. Police caught the man after spotting him dangling from the ledge of a second-story window.
The man, James Alexander Daniels, eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and first-degree theft and was sentenced to two years in prison, three years of post-prison supervision and ordered to pay restitution.
The Parrott House again made headlines in March 2019 when Circle Star Ranch sued the restaurant for the cost of four pigs it had slaughtered, according to court documents. The owner of the ranch claimed he took the pigs to Crystal Creek Meats so they could be prepared for the Parrott House, but the restaurant never paid up.
Circle Star Ranch sues Parrott House over four pigs
In court documents, Lael said she never ordered the pigs, but was ordered to pay the ranch nearly $2,500 by a Douglas County Circuit Court judge.