May 14, 2018

Kevin Perry sentenced to 14 years in prison

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

Kevin Perry, the former owner of The Usual and Blackstone Tap, has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for using those eateries and other properties to launder proceeds of his illegal opioid sales.

U.S. District Judge for Massachusetts Timothy Hillman imposed the sentence on Perry Monday in the federal courthouse in Worcester. In addition to prison time, Perry will be on supervised release for five years after his release.

Perry and the government had previously agreed to a sentence of 14 to 16 years, but Hillman chose the shorter end of the sentence after both sides presented their arguments.

He was indicted in March 2017 and charged with 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.

U.S. District Attorney Greg Friedholm cited Perry's lengthy criminal history, which includes time served for manufacturing and selling ecstacy, a scheme which included building an underground drug lab underneath a trailer.

Perry was convicted of those offenses in 2005 and released in 2008, but he quickly resumed his criminal career, Friedholm said.

He reported to probation that he was employed as a personal trainer at a Framingham gym making $60,000 a year, but he then began buying up properties in Central Massachusetts, sometimes spending six figures in cash for the deposit and closing costs.

According to Friedholm, Perry in 2016 dropped more than $220,000 in cash on the deposit and closing costs to purchase the property and business at 166 Shrewsbury St., which soon became The Usual. According to land records, the property was sold for $500,000.

Prior to Perry, The Fix Burger Bar occupied the space before Niche Hospitality Group moved the restaurant to Grove Street.

The Blackstone Tap, at 81 Water St., was purchased for $420,000 in 2016, and Perry used more than $240,000 in cash for that purchase.

Those properties and several other rental properties purchased by Perry with drug money have since been seized by the government.

A cooperating witness helped make authorities aware of Perry's activity in early 2017, which included using a pill press to manufacture fentanyl pills, Friedholm said.

Perry recently agreed to a polygraph test, and when asked about other proceeds he had not disclosed to the government, he was found to be deceptive in his answers, Friedholm said.

Perry's attorney, James Boudreau argued that Perry, 44, has acknowledged that he's not getting off easy.

"Mr. Perry is clearly at the end of his road," he said.

Reading a prepared statement, Perry apologized to his family, the government and public for distributing opioids as the country wrestles with the epidemic.

Perry's crimes had a far reaching effect, resulting in the closure of five restaurants.

His wife, Stacey Gala, allegedly used portions of his drug proceeds to fund a remodel of The Usual as The Chameleon last summer. That venture, however, was short lived, as it closed in October.

Gala and a co-conspirator Joseph Herman are facing charges related to that scheme, including money laundering charges.

Christopher Slavinskas, a former owner of the Hangover Pub and Broth, has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about taking a portion of Perry's drug money that had previously been hidden. His sentencing is scheduled for June 29.

Those two restaurants have been closed since March 30, but Slavinskas has been removed from the business and the License Commission approved new licenses under a new business entity to other owners that had not been involved in the scheme.

Read more

Cornerstone, U.S. agree to $415K Shrewsbury Street drug restaurant settlement

Cornerstone Bank wants $440K from Chameleon, Usual restaurant sale

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