Manager Stole $4K from Greenwich Village Eatery Smorgas Chef, Police Say

By Heather Holland on November 21, 2013 7:55am 

 A former manager of Smorgas Chef was arrested after stealing more than $4,000 from the company, police and the restaurant said.
A former manager of Smorgas Chef was arrested after stealing more than $4,000 from the company, police and the restaurant said.
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Facebook/Smorgas Chef

WEST VILLAGE — A former manager of Scandinavian restaurant Smorgas Chef was arrested after stealing more than $4,000 from the company, the NYPD said.

Mirko Dragas, who worked at the Greenwich Village restaurant for just three months, was arrested for swindling $4,346 from the business by submitting false invoices and charging personal expenses to the company's credit card, according to police and Smorgas Chef owner Morten Sohlberg.

“This guy is definitely a con man,” Sohlberg said. “He worked really hard to create this illusion that he’s very loyal and skilled.... I almost feel ashamed that I bought into it. You never think that everything somebody says is a lie.”

Dragas, 29, started as a manager at Smorgas' Downtown location but frequently worked at the Village outpost, at 283 W. 12th St., after he was promoted to operations manager, which also gave him access to the company's books, Sohlberg said.

In one incident, Dragas charged $2,770 in new restaurant equipment to a fake credit card, and then got the restaurant to reimburse him for the purchase, Sohlberg said. But the restaurant never received any equipment because the purchase never went through, Sohlberg said.

Dragas also charged $846 worth of personal purchases to the company's credit card and used the card to make a wire transfer of $730, police said.

Dragas quit when Sohlberg confronted him about the missing money, and police arrested him when he returned to the restaurant to pick up his last paycheck on Nov. 10, Sohlberg said. Dragas was charged with grand larceny, police said.

“We want to prevent other restaurant groups from hiring this guy and falling into his trap," Sohlberg said. "It’s not that much money, but it’s very painful to go through something like that.”

Information about Dragas’ lawyer was not immediately available. He is due back in court on Jan. 9.

Other notable crimes in this week's NYPD blotter for the 6th Precinct include:

► A man was arrested after blocking traffic, attacking a police officer and trying to grab the officers' guns, police said. 

Police spotted 29-year-old Michael Glick running into the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Bleecker Street and stopping traffic about 5:10 a.m. on Sunday, according to a police report.

When officers tried to give him a ticket, Glick ran north on Bleecker Street. The officers caught up with him in front of 99 Perry St., but Blick punched one of the officers and knocked him to the ground and then tried to pull two officers' guns from their holsters, police said. 

Two officers were hurt, one with a sprained wrist and the other with a sprained wrist and cuts to the hand, police said. Both officers were treated at a nearby hospital, according to the criminal complaint.

Glick was charged with assault, attempted criminal possession of a weapon, obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Information about Glick’s attorney was not immediately available. He is due back in court on March 18.

► Two men snatched a pair of iPhones from patrons at Tenjune nightclub, at 26 Little West 12th St., early Saturday morning, police said.

One customer told police that her iPhone 5 was swiped from her bag inside the bar, while another patron reported he had been jostled and noticed his phone was missing about 1:15 a.m.

Club security stopped 33-year-old Mounir Jaaouani and found that he was carrying both victims' phones, which were worth $600 each, according to the police report. Hocine Ouldhmou, 26, was arrested in the thefts as well.

Both Jaaouani and Ouldhmou were charged with grand larceny. Ouldhmou’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Information regarding Jaaouani's lawyer was not immediately available.

Both are due in court Thursday.

Tenjune did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

► A man arrested for panhandling in a subway station bit a police officer trying to handcuff him, police said.

Police spotted Preston Smith, 49, panhandling and blocking the uptown 1 subway platform at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue about 7:10 p.m. on Nov. 15, according to the police report.

Smith was found with a switchblade, police said.

Once he was taken to a holding cell at the 6th Precinct, Smith bit an officer in the hand as the officer tried to handcuff Smith to take him to the bathroom, police said.

The police officer was treated at Beth Israel Hospital.

Smith was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and attempted assault. He is due in court Thursday.

► A man poked a bar security guard in the eye and broke the bar’s glass door, police said.

The security guard of Hangar Bar, at 115 Christopher St., told police 28-year-old Tavarius Graves poked him in the eye, causing him severe pain, at about 11:40 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Graves was charged with harassment, assault and criminal mischief, police said. Hangar Bar and Graves’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Graves is due in court on Jan. 9.

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