Dante’s owner posts bail

By From page A1 | April 8, 2011

After three weeks in an El Dorado County jail cell, Kevin Cairns is a free man.

Cairns, owner of the now-closed Dante’s on the River restaurant east of Pollock Pines, posted bail Friday afternoon, hours after an El Dorado County judge lowered his bail amount, which was initially set at a quarter-million dollars when he was remanded back into custody on March 15 on suspicion of several criminal counts, including two felony assault charges.

Friday morning Cairns was set to appear in court for a hearing to review a bail adjustment motion filed by defense attorney Steve Tapson.

An apparent mixup, however, was the cause of Cairns’ absence, as the restaurateur was left behind in jail.

Although Cairns was not present at his hearing, a dozen or so friends and supporters attended the early morning hearing.

Before Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud, Tapson and deputy district attorney Dale Gomes argued whether the court should reduce Cairns’ bail from $250,000.

Tapson, as part of his motion, included several character letters from community members.

When given the opportunity to speak, Gomes said letters from patrons should not be enough to grant the motion, saying, “The people Mr. Cairns hasn’t assaulted have little to say about what his bail should be.”

Tapson told the court that Cairns had plans to train in South Lake Tahoe for a new business venture and that the Dante’s owner presented no flight risk or danger to the community.

Judge Proud ultimately ruled to reduce the bail amount to $87,000 — far less than $250,000, but not as low as the $25,000 figure recommended by Tapson.

With his ruling, Judge Proud urged Tapson to tell his client to stay out of trouble, adding that continued altercations with motorists would not make his legal battles easier.

Outside of the courtroom, Cairns’ wife, Nancy, celebrated the victory as she hugged friends.

“It’s a small victory for Cairns,” said Tapson. “He’s an honest, hard working fellow. His original bail was set too high. It’s probably too high now, but we’ll take what we can get.”

As Nancy exited the Courthouse, she joyously told supporters, “Thank you all, all, all very much. I’m going to get my husband.”

Shortly after noon, Kevin Cairns posted bail, according to Chuck Holland of Gold Country Bail Bonds.

“Mrs. Cairns is very happy to be reunited with her husband, as her husband is very happy to be reunited with his wife and family,” said Holland.

Later Friday afternoon, Nancy issued a written statement to the Mountain Democrat.

“I am elated beyond words to have my husband in my arms and see the happiness in my son’s eyes now that Kevin is home.

“I am disappointed in the system for keeping him the way they did. I am saddened we did not have the opportunity to announce our untimely closing to all of our customers-turned-friends to dine with us for one last time.

“Kevin will be helping an old friend open 10 new restaurants nationwide. I will be concentrating on my chocolate accounts in San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe and Santa Cruz.”

Kevin Cairns had been in jail for his role in three separate incidents in his restaurant’s parking lot: one from November 2010, one from January and one from last month.

Cairns previously told the Democrat that motorists routinely trespass onto his property in order to urinate, vomit, defecate or use drugs in his parking lot and that he was simply defending himself, his family and his business.

He is charged with the felony assaults of two different motorists, one count of felony vandalism, as well as several misdemeanors including disturbing the peace.

Kevin Cairns is set to return to court April 29 for a readiness and settlement conference. His trial is set to begin May 3.

E-mail Jim Ratajczak at [email protected] or call 530-344-5069.

Jim Ratajczak

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