back of the big house

Frederick LeSort, Jailbird Restaurateur

Frederick LeSort, who opened his latest restaurant, Plein Sud, last week, spent a little time in the pokey back in April 2009. Cops stopped him for a broken tail light, but discovered that he was driving on a suspended license. "I had rented a commercial truck and was driving in a non-commercial zone, and had forgotten to pay the fine," he told Grub Street. "I didn't know they had suspended my license." The police handcuffed him and took him to the midtown south precinct on West 35th Street, where he was fingerprinted at 4 a.m.

After a McDonald's breakfast sandwich and a Coke, LeSort moved to a larger cell. "I'm not an expert at criminals, but I was in a cell with these guys who looked like they weren't in just for traffic violations. I refused the dinner of peanut butter, and one of them started yelling at me that I should have taken it and given it to him. I didn't drink water because the bathroom had no door and I didn't want to have to use it, '' said Lesort, who was wearing a suit at the time. He was finally released at about 10 the next night after paying a fine of $160. "The handcuffs were so tight my thumb hurt for a month,'' he said. "Couldn't they have just asked for the $160 up front?

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