A cook accused of bilking a woman of more than $200,000 on Florida's East Coast was arrested at a Sarasota restaurant Friday night, half an hour after his story was featured on the TV show America's Most Wanted.
The capture was the second fastest in the show's four-year history, Most Wanted's spokesman Jack Breslin said Saturday.
Henry Turkel, who faces forgery and grand theft charges in West Palm Beach, had been a line cook at Hemingway's restaurant in Sarasota for the past month, restaurant manager Perry Tennell said.
He cooked meals with expertise and was charmingly polite, Tennell said.
No one knew the 43-year-old man had a problem until Friday night.
As Turkel worked his regular shift, several off-duty employees saw the show, which broadcast photographs of their co-worker. They called their boss, and Tennell called police.
Within minutes, Turkel was arrested at the restaurant by Sarasota police, Tennell said.
While living in Palm Beach earlier this year, Turkel posed as one of the country's finest certified chefs and landed a job at a posh hotel, Breslin said. But the show said he had never been to cooking school.
Turkel befriended a young widow and convinced her to invest her money in a restaurant venture, the TV show said. He then forged her name to business checks and took off in April after being charged with felony crimes, police said. The woman was left bankrupt with debts of more than $200,000, the show said.
Restaurant manager Tennell was not put off by the charges against his employee.
Tennell said he never checked Turkel's references when he hired him, but found him to be a good employee who was knowledgeable about food.
"I would have him back," he said. "And I'm going to do what I can to help him."
Turkel's was the 224th capture prompted by a Most Wanted episode, Breslin said. The all-time fastest was in 1988 when Robert Wayne Fisher, accused of murder, was arrested in Louisiana 27 minutes after the show aired.