February 20, 2018

Feds: Hidden drug money used to open, operate The Chameleon

Grant Welker
The Chameleon restaurant on Shrewsbury street has been closed since October.

The Chameleon, the short-lived restaurant that took the place of The Usual on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, was opened using proceeds from the former owner's illegal drug sales, federal prosecutors allege.

In an indictment issued last week, prosecutors allege the former manager of The Usual restaurant and Stacey Gala, the wife of now-convicted Kevin Perry, used more than $200,000 in drug proceeds hidden from law enforcement in a Northborough storage locker to open The Chameleon.

Perry was indicted in March on 14 counts for his drug operation and money laundering. He pleaded guilty in October and agreed to a sentence of 14 to 16 years in prison and forfeiture of his properties and assets.

His sentencing was rescheduled from last month to April, court documents show.

According to the new indictment, Perry told Gala in May he hid about $260,000 in a self-storage locker in Northborough. She then told co-defendant Joseph Herman, the former manager of The Usual, about the money.

Those two and another individual only identified in the indictment as C.S. removed more than $200,000 from the locker and used a portion of those funds to open the Chameleon in July.

Gala is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and a criminal forfeiture allegation, and Herman is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, making false statements to investigators, witness tampering and a criminal forfeiture allegation.

Both pleaded not guilty and were released at their arraignment on Friday.

The indictment alleges Herman told the Worcester Licensing Commission at a July hearing he and certain relatives invested up to $40,000 to help reopen the restaurant as The Chameleon.

In August, prosecutors told Herman they were investigating the proceeds of Perry's drug sales, but Herman lied, claiming that Gala gave him $100,000 to renovate the restaurant and used only $16,000.

Prosecutors allege much more than $16,000 was used to open and operate The Chameleon, and further, that Herman coordinated the hiding of at least $330,000 of additional drug proceeds and personally spent more than $40,000.

When C.S. was summoned by a federal grand jury to testify, Herman allegedly told him to lie and say he was alone when he retrieved Perry's drug proceeds.

Both Gala and Herman are due back in court on March 30.

The Chameleon closed in October. A judge ruled in December the government can sell Perry's properties, including the Chameleon building at 166 Shrewsbury St. and the Blackstone Tap at 81 Water St. in Worcester.

Read more

Government can sell Worcester restaurants connected to drug scheme

The Chameleon restaurant closes abrupty

Former owner of Usual restaurant agrees to 14-year sentence in drug arrest

Shrewsbury St. restaurant to open in building seized over drugs


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