November 22, 2017

The Chameleon restaurant closes abrupty

Grant Welker
The Chameleon restaurant on Shrewsbury street has been closed for several weeks.

The Chameleon, the Worcester restaurant that opened in the former The Usual space after its owner was arrested on drug charges, appears closed.

Calls to the restaurant went to a dead phone line and emails to an email address for the restaurant went unanswered. The restaurant's social media accounts mention nothing about closing.

A FedEx slip for a package that was delivered to an empty restaurant from earlier this month was still on the front door Wednesday.

The restaurant opened on June 30, just months after The Usual owner Kevin Perry was indicted on federal drug charges, including nine counts of money laundering, three counts of aggravated cash structuring, one count of making a false statement on a loan application and one count of distribution of fentanyl.

According to court filings, Perry changed his plea to guilty on Oct. 13 and agreed to prison terms of 14 to 16 years, five years of supervised release and the forfeiture of nine properties, vehicles and nearly $2 million.

Sentencing is scheduled for January.

The Chameleon was owned and operated by Joe Herman and executive chef Deven Senior, two former employees of The Usual. with Perry's wife staying on as a silent partner. Stacey Gala, Perry's wife and co-owner of The Usual, is a silent partner for the new restaurant.

Of those nine forfeited properties, two include the Chameleon and Blackstone Tap. A call Wednesday to the Blackstone Tap met a disconnected line, but it's unclear if that establishment is also closed.

The Chameleon last posted a picture of a meal on its Facebook page on Oct. 31. On Nov. 4, a commenter wrote he made an online reservation, but the restaurant was closed when he arrived.

It's unclear if the closing is related to the plea deal.

City officials and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce officials said Wednesfday they aren't sure why the restaurant closed.

The U.S. alleged Perry used more than $1 million he made from selling steroids, cocaine and fentanyl from April 2012 to October 2016 to buy and renovate nine properties in Worcester County, including The Blackstone Tap and The Usual (which has since reopen as the Chameleon).

He also allegedly used the funds to pay for his wedding in 2015.

In 2005, he was convicted in federal court in Massachusetts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute MDMA, or ecstasy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He was sentenced to time in prison.

When he was released in 2008, he began making and selling the drugs to fund his Worcester County businesses. During his supervised release between 2008 and 2014, the only employment he reported to the U.S. Probation Office and IRS was as a fitness trainer earning about $4,800 a month.

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