Home NEWS Local Scene Chef Valentino Luchin Of Lafayette Booked For Robbing Orinda Bank Wednesday

Chef Valentino Luchin Of Lafayette Booked For Robbing Orinda Bank Wednesday

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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.

49 COMMENTS

    • @Barbara – Ha! Not on this one, apparently. Sean and Pamela are taking the day off!

  1. Desperate times – desperate measures. Wow. I guess he forgot – cameras in the parking lots of banks.

  2. Do you think he may have also been responsible for previous unsolved robberies in the area? Maybe he just got sloppy after having gotten away with it multiple times.

    • @Pamela – Hi and good morning and, frankly, we have a ton of questions about this one. We’ve asked and we’ll post anything substantive when we get it.

  3. Act of desperation… taken this route put him at rock bottom quickly! The way he spiraled down I wonder if he had a drug problem?

    • @George – Total speculation at this stage though there are factors which have led to similar acts by others in the past. We’re hearing from folks offline and if there’s anything concrete and worthy of public interest that comes of it we’ll update. Big story for Little Lamorinda.

  4. I doubt he’s responsible for previous unsolved robberies in the area. He’s a local resident who used his own car and parked in the lot (with cameras). He doesn’t sound like someone who knows how to get away with a crime. Is he unemployed?

    • @Greg – We must be careful to maintain a professional distance but, yeah… and for the clerk who got to see his gun. That isn’t fun, either.

  5. We were regulars at Ottavio, and always enjoyed Valentino’s fine cooking and hospitality. This news is so counter to who we knew him to be. While it absolutely does not excuse his behavior, he must have been in a state of absolute desperation. Like a previous poster mentioned, I have to wonder whether an addiction — either to drugs or gambling — led him to this. I feel so sorry for his family.

  6. I’m saddened by the empathy for this bank robber. He used a GUN! I feel for the bank teller. The heck with this idiot. I don’t care if he has a drug problem, is unemployed, or used to run a restaurant, which obviously wasn’t successful, or it wouldn’t be closed. Work in a bank and see the trauma bank tellers face when victimized by armed robbers. All I can say is thank goodness I was a young college student when working in banking, and thankfully I was never robbed.

    Lastly, ALL BANK ROBBERS ARE DESPERATE OR THEY WOULDN’T BE ROBBING A BANK!

  7. Drove by all the police at Oakwood and wondered what was going on. You guys were the first sight I typed in when I got home and voila! Invaluable service.

  8. Hoping for some good to come out of this. Sometimes you have to get to a very low place before you can begin your climb upward again.

  9. @Danielle I completely agree with you on the empathy thing. This guy had advantages that most criminals don’t have and still took the low road. I’m sure he had many opportunities to take another route before arriving at a place where he saw robbing a bank as his only option.

  10. Wow. I hope he’s ready to replace “Messy Lasagne with truffle ragout” with tater tots and government cheese.

    • @E – Please thank you neighbor for “Flashing” with us! And thank you for the kind word…

    • @Katherine – So we’re being told! We pretty much just put our heads down and do what we do… though always nice to be first.

  11. Wow. I think about a third of the county is in the same situation as this man.

  12. Pamela – thanks for the link.

    So he’s claiming “unemployment” for his financial stress. With his experience, he can’t find someone to hire him? Is his wife employed? Bank tellers can’t tell a real gun from a fake one, but a letter of apology is hardly the norm. I guess he won’t be pleading not guilty.

    I’m assuming the athletic club on Mt. Diablo is Oakwood. Is he a member, or did they just pull him over in the parking lot? If he’s a member, cancelling his membership might help. As a member, it’s a rather pricey club.

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