Chop House Owner On the Chopping Block

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Robert "Bob" Sambol, 55, owner of Bob's Steak & Chop House, was indicted yesterday for theft of $200,000 by a Dallas grand jury. After former customer Lee Thompson, Jr. invested $300,000 to fund a wine/cigar lounge add-on to Bob's Lemmon Ave. restaurant, Thompson claims Sambol didn't follow through and wants his money back.

Robert Wilonsky has been following the story today on Unfair Park (and a lengthy update, including interviews with Sambol's attorney and the prosecutor):

Sambol calls it "a business deal gone bad," saying Thompson got mad and wanted the money back. But Sambol says he doesn't have it.

Thompson's attorney Chris Lewis said his client is "saddened by the indictment" and that the two were longtime friends. He says Sambol "traded on this friendship and created false pretenses" of a $300,000 business deal, which was arranged more than a year ago.

"I am not going to prison," Sambol told D Magazine's Nancy Nichols.

So where did Sambol go wrong? According to Lewis's statement, Sambol suffers from extravagant financial irresponsibility. "Gambling problems...numerous debts...[and a] membership at the exclusive Dallas National Golf Club."

This is not mere "breach of contract" talk, which would constitute a civil dispute. This disagreement zipped into criminal territory, "theft" was stamped on the file and now, according to a Dallas Morning News report, Sambol could face life in prison.

A warrant was issued for Sambol's arrest following the indictment. According to D's food blog Side Dish, he said he'd be turning himself in today - and that he'll "be back at work as usual tonight."

Sambol's bond was set today by Judge Mitchell, 292nd Judicial District Court, at $15,000, according to Sambol's case record. Unless the bond is waived or Sambol agrees to pay, business as usual may not be an option.

Judging from some of his assets, he can probably swing the bond. Sambol's Dallas residence is valued at $579,480, and Bob's Steak & Chop House is worth about $1 million, according to DallasCAD.org.

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