Rebar owner agrees to $1M restitution for lovebirds

Barred: Vicki Friedrich and Egon Smullyan paid $20,000 up front for a February 2015 wedding at Rebar in Dumbo and are now scrambling to find another place to tie the knot.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

It’s the big payback.

Rebar owner Jason Stevens has agreed to pay back more than $1 million to the dozens of couples who had weddings booked at his venue when it closed abruptly in May, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office. Spurned lovebirds lauded the deal.

“I’m elated,” said Christian Pascarella, a groom-to-be that has been organizing the couples to seek justice. “What he did was wrong, but if he’s trying to make some restitution that’s great.”

The agreement means that the 73 couples who have filed complaints with the attorney general and shown proof of having paid Stevens should get their money back, if Stevens has it. Scheiderman’s office said it does not know whether Stevens can muster the money or not. The deal needs a judge to sign off on it and additional couples will have 120 days to come forward after that, the spokeswoman said.

The agreement comes on the same day that Stevens pleaded guilty to tax evasion and grand larceny charges in a separate case that could send him to prison for as long as 10 years. The bargain he’s making now could save him from charges of fraud for the pocketed nuptial payments, Pascarella speculated.

“It seems like he’s doing the right thing,” he said. “Whatever his motivations are, at least he’s owning up to it and being a man about it.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Reeling and dealing: The attorney general's office announced a restitution deal with Rebar owner Jason Stevens on the same day he pleaded guilty to five felony counts for other misdeeds.
Community Newspaper Group / Matthew Perlman

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