Lawyer Arrested for Stealing Food -
The Italian lawyer who spent a night in jail for allegedly running out on a bill at a fancy East Side steakhouse has paid up and is in the clear.
Graziano Graziussi, 43, turned in a money order to cover the $ 208 Smith and Wollensky bill — plus a small court fee — in Manhattan Criminal Court Monday morning, a payment that ends the “theft of services” case against the Naples attorney.
“I’m a free bird,” he said, smiling after agreeing to a deal that dismissed the case as long as Graziussi doesn’t get in trouble for six months.
Graziussi was arrested after the iconic Third Ave. restaurant said he refused to pay his bill for his Jan. 21 steakhouse soiree at the start of a two-week trip to the city.
But Graziussi told the News he simply forgot his wallet, but didn’t realize it until the check came.
He offered to leave his iPhone as collateral as he went uptown to get his wallet, but the restaurant called cops instead.
Officers declined to drive Graziussi uptown for a reunion with his billfold and arrested him instead.
When Graziussi was processed at the stationhouse, police discovered $ 118 in his pocket — adding some meat to the restaurant’s bones of contention that Graziussi was trying to dine and dash.
Graziussi claimed he “forgot he had the cash.”
“I wanted to pay,” he added. “If I didn’t want to pay why didn’t I make a run for it? Why didn’t I pretend to go for a smoke and not come back?”
And he joked that his Italian friends are baffled by the arrest, given Graziussi’s self-proclaimed generosity.
“I am always the one to pay for everybody,” he said, laughing.
The charges against him were anything but a joke, however. The lawyer could have faced up to a year in jail, though such a full misdemeanor sentence was as likely as a vegan chef landing a job at Smith and Wollensky.
With the case resolved, Graziussi said he bears no hard feelings against his favorite steakhouse, saying he’s ready to go back — “If they apologize,” he said.