Popular Steakhouse Owner Avoids Prison Time in Knife Assault
SAN ANGELO, TX -- The owner of the Old Gin Steakhouse in Wall, TX facing a felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge was placed on pretrial diversion Monday.
79-year-old Eugene Cmerek was accused in Aug. 2018 of grabbing a knife from the restaurant’s kitchen area in an altercation with Arnulfo Rivero Jr. As we reported in Aug., Rivero stated in an interview that Cmerek entered the building and began cursing him. Rivero said Cmerek reached with both hands for his throat. Rivero then slapped Cmerek’s hands away and retreated into the kitchen area.
Rivero told the deputy that Cmerek grabbed a knife off a nearby counter and approached Rivero holding the knife like a weapon.
The deputy interviewed Cmerek who stated it was Rivero who cursed him when Cmerek entered the building and he grabbed the knife to protect himself.
After reviewing video surveillance, the deputy arrested Cmerek. He was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and released on bond.
At the court hearing Monday, District Judge Ben Woodward placed Cmerek on one year deferred adjudication. Cmerek was not indicted by a grand jury and waived a speedy trial. If Cmerek completes the conditions of the pretrial diversion, the District Attorney will dismiss the charges.
A normal condition of probation and deferred adjudication is that the defendant not use alcohol or go to places that sell alcoholic beverages. Cmerek’s defense attorney Tip Hargrove told Judge Woodard that Cmerek owned the Old Gin Steakhouse which sells alcohol and needed to be able to go to his restaurant. Judge Woodward made that exception to Cmerek’s deferred adjudication instructions.
If Cmerek violates the rules of his deferred adjudication, he would face a trial by information which would come with a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The Old Gin Steakhouse was closed temporarily but has since reopened.