Highgate high jinks . . . it sounds like something out of a crime novel. One selling point of the venerable, now-defunct Highgate Manor Inn was that legendary mobster Al Capone was once a patron.
But the young couple that last owned and operated the Inn, Benjamin Osmanson of Texas and Jillian Protzman of Essex, may have been up to a bit of book cooking of their own. After being tracked for two years by cops and the FBI, the pair was arrested for running a money-laundering operation that produced $26 million in fraudulent loans. In early October, they were indicted in federal court for setting up phony mortgages in the names of family and friends and skimming more than a million dollars off the top.
Capone’s Bar, styled after a speakeasy, boasted a dark ambiance, stone walls and archaic “jail cells” for storing the liquor. Maybe that décor doesn’t seem so quaint anymore to the former owners, who each face decades in federal prison.
In case you missed it . . . Last week a blaze ravaged the All Fired Up Tavern in Barre and the historic building that housed it — formerly the Barre railroad station — was torn down.
Nobody was hurt, and the fire department deemed the conflagration an accident. Asked if the restaurant will be rebuilt or relocated, co-owner Ann Fiore is uncertain. “Right at the moment, we don’t know. I’m going to let everything settle down for a while,” she says. “What I’m doing now is working with the insurance companies.”
Business was booming before the disaster, Fiore laments. “Oh, yeah, we were doing really well. Everybody was so upset by [the fire].”