Thomas Bard, who owned the Zapoteca restaurant in Portland with his wife, Shannon Bard, pleaded guilty Monday in Cumberland County Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of negotiating a worthless instrument.

A former Portland restaurateur who was accused of writing bad checks pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Monday.

Shannon Bard

The hearing marked the end of the criminal case against Thomas Bard, who once owned Zapoteca on Fore Street with his wife, well-known Maine chef Shannon Bard. She was also charged, but court documents show her case is likely to be dismissed this fall.

A Cumberland County grand jury indicted the pair in March. Thomas Bard was charged with writing 21 bad checks worth $10,376 between March and June 2017. Shannon Bard, who appeared on Food Network shows and wrote cookbooks, was charged with writing $8,882 in bad checks during the same time. All of the checks were written to Bow Street Distributing, a Freeport company that sells liquor to restaurants and operates retail stores.

The original charges were felonies, but Thomas Bard pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor count of negotiating a worthless instrument. He spoke only to answer the judge during the brief hearing at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland. When it ended, he shook his attorney’s hand and quickly left the courthouse alone.

Just before the hearing Monday, Thomas Bard paid more than $10,500 in restitution, which included bank fees Bow Street incurred when the checks bounced. He will also pay a $1,000 fine, and he served 48 hours in jail this month. He and his attorney, Randall Bates, agreed to a bail revocation that would have him serve his sentence before the plea hearing to avoid any effect on his employment in Massachusetts.

Both Thomas Bard and his lawyer declined to comment Monday. Messages left at Bow Street Distributing and Bow Street Market in Freeport were not returned Monday.


Shannon Bard was not at Monday’s hearing. Court documents show she will not have to pay restitution. Her charges will remain on file for three months, and if she does nothing wrong during that time, they will be dismissed. She also will pay court costs of $200 and perform 15 hours of community service.

Stephen Schwartz, her attorney, said she “did nothing wrong.”

“The record speaks for itself,” Schwartz said. “Shannon Bard did not plead guilty to anything, and her case is being dismissed.”

Shannon Bard had made a name for herself on chef competition shows, and she hosted a dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, a high honor.

But the Bards closed Zapoteca abruptly in June, saying they wanted to spend more time with their family. Soon thereafter, they also closed their restaurant in Kennebunk, called Toroso. But the couple and their business were facing at least a dozen lawsuits from former vendors and employees who claimed they were owed thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. It is not clear whether all of those cases have been resolved.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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