An armed robbery at the Citibank branch in Orinda Wednesday morning triggered a widespread search for a suspect who left the scene in an older model Mercedes, police said, and ended when that suspect left a home on Valente Drive in Lafayette and was taken into custody on the street outside.
Records indicate Valentino Luchin, 54, a celebrity chef who makes his home on Valente Drive, in Lafayette, was booked Wednesday afternoon for first degree robbery in connection with the crime. He is being held at the Martinez Detention Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Orinda Police Chief Mark Nagel said the robbery occurred at 10:57 a.m. with the male suspect displaying a weapon and handing a demand note to a teller. Investigators reviewed video surveillance of the bank and were able to obtain a license plate from the black Mercedes used as a getaway vehicle as it pulled away, Nagel said.
Investigators traced the car back to a residence on Valente Drive, actually found it parked in a lot at the nearby Oakwood Athletic Club in Lafayette and officers surveilled both the car and the home in question while detectives sought a search warrant for the residence. As officers watched, Nagel said, the suspect walked out of the home and was stopped on Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
He was taken into custody without further incident, according to Nagel.
Luchin is former owner/head chef of Ottavio – a Venetian-style osteria in downtown Walnut Creek which drew a faithful following for six years before it closed suddenly in 2016, and formerly executive chef at Rose Pistola in San Francisco.
A product of Este in the Veneto region, Luchin opened the upscale spot in 2010 with an emphasis on house-cured meats and fish.