Police issue alert about seizure-faking scammer at restaurants

A notorious Baltimore restaurant scammer -- who would fake seizures to avoid paying the check -- has recently been released from prison, according to a police alert warning restaurants that the man is back in circulation.

Police say that Andrew Palmer, 45, whose last known address was in the block of 500 S. Broadway, recently completed an 18-month sentence.

On Thursday evening, a patron allegedly perpetrating a similar scam was busted at Chazz: A Bronx Original, according to social media reports. Police Friday confirmed that there had been an arrest Thursday evening at Chazz for larceny -- however, the suspect in that incident was not Palmer.

Palmer's scam worked like this, according to previous reporting from The Baltimore Sun: Palmer would go into a restaurant, sit at the bar and order up dinner and drinks, plenty of them. On a typical visit, he'd eventually appear to be on the verge of falling asleep on his stool. Just before the check was delivered, though, he'd go off the men's room, where he passed out on the floor. The act varied – sometimes, he’d pass out in the middle of the dining room, and he'd sometimes throw in seizure-like symptoms.

Unable to rouse him, the restaurant staff would call 911, and the scammer was limoed off by paramedics to the nearest emergency room. From there, depending on whether the restaurant was pressing charges, Palmer either quietly absconded or was arrested by the police.

This went on for years and years.

Between 1985 and 2010, Palmer accumulated more than 80 arrests and 40 convictions, most of which carried 90-day sentences, the maximum for theft under $100. In 2010, Palmer pled guilty to a theft scheme charge that prosecutors had cobbled together from a string of six minor offenses and was handed an 18-month sentence.

Palmer, police say, resurfaced after his recent release from prison. In an alert to restaurants distributed by Sgt. Harvey Baublitz of the Central District, Palmer was said to have "possibly hit three restaurants at the harbor," upon his return to society but possibly more. Other restaurants may not have called the police or followed through with charges, Baublitz's alert said.

According to a social-media post from Sergio Vitale, the co-owner of Chazz: A Bronx Original, restaurant staff spotted a man Thursday evening who, they say, attempted a no-pay scam. They called the police, who arrested the patron.

On Friday morning, however, a police spokesman confirmed that there had been a larceny arrest at Chazz but named the suspect as Thomas Kitchner, 38, of the 4200 block of Sixth Street in Brooklyn.

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