By Mike Rush
KIRKWOOD, Mo. (KSDK) - He's a member of a well-known, respected family, so why is he running and hiding from 5 on Your Side?
It's because a recent widow says he cheated her out of money.
Between the unremarkable walls of a Kirkwood warehouse sits a hodge-podge of knick-knacks, antiques and oddities and the master of this collection is Roberto Gallardo.
If his name rings a bell, it could be you've frequented the family business, the now-defunct Casa Gallardo Mexican Restaurant chain.
But Roberto Gallardo's game now seems less cuisine and more consignment and it's in this role that he met Karen Richman.
"My husband found his name on Craigslist," said Richman.
That was about a year ago at one of the worst times in Karen's life. Her husband of 47 years, Howard, was dying.
"He had kidney disease and heart disease," said Richman. "It was not a good place to be."
The Creve Coeur couple was downsizing from a two to one-story house and needed to sell off some stuff.
Richman says her husband and Gallardo struck a deal. She says Gallardo took 25 to 30 items, including furniture and appliances, all worth, she says the parties agreed, about $5,000. Gallardo would store and sell the items and they'd split the profits.
"How much have you gotten so far today," asked 5 on Your Side's Mike Rush.
"How about none, nothing," replied Richman.
Even though Karen says Gallardo told them he'd sold items and was sending money.
The situation was on Howard's mind until the end, as evidenced by a November e-mail he wrote to Gallardo.
"Karen and I have been extremely disappointed and we hope that this situation will be corrected immediately," Karen read from her husband's e-mail.
"My husband passed away the next day," she said.
Gallardo didn't return Mike Rush's calls or e-mails so Mike went to his warehouse. While Mike was outside, Gallardo, for the first time, called him and said he wasn't there. But when the owner of the building let Mike in, Mike found him hiding from him.
Gallardo: "I gave you my side."
Rush: "I'm listening."
Gallardo: "I have nothing to say."
There Gallardo stood silent for about six minutes, hiding right on the other side of a partially open door.
Only the amorous actions of his dog doing what dogs do on people's legs broke the stalemate.
Rush: "I'm going to send you a dry cleaning bill for this, are you going to pay that?"
Gallardo: "Oh, my gosh."
Rush: "Come on, talk to me. Where are you going?"
Gallardo: "Your dry cleaning bill comes with the job."
With that, he drove away and my investigation drove forward. I found out not only does Gallardo have a criminal record involving pleading guilty to passing a bad check, but that another woman filed a lawsuit against him with a similar claim, that he took her items and kept most of the money he owed her, even thought she signed a contract with Gallardo and his business, G.W.S. and Storage Company, spelling out the terms.
Rush confronted Gallardo once again about Karen Richman on a weekend he advertised a garage sale at the warehouse.
Rush: "So you've sold some of her stuff though?"
Gallardo: "Very little things, Mike."
Rush: "Can you show me the records of what you've sold?"
Gallardo: "No, I'm not going to get into that."
Rush: "Why can't you?"
Gallardo: "She can come here and do it."
Gallardo refused to show me documentation of what he'd sold and how much money he collected.
Rush: "The impression is that you've cheated a widow. And if that's not true..."
Gallardo: "Watch out." (as he began to close down his warehouse)
Rush: "If that's not true, then what's the case?"
Gallardo: "I'm going to let you go, Mike."
Gallardo then closed the door.
"I think this is his profession. I think this is his way of doing business," said Richman.
Mike Rush looked into Gallardo's business, which he claims is just a hobby, and found out Gallardo isn't licensed in Kirkwood or the state to run that business.
Mike contacted both the Kirkwood Police and Missouri Attorney General's Office with the information.
The attorney general's office says it's investigating. Kirkwood Police contacted Gallardo and told him to get a license in ten days or face fines and possibly be shut down.
Mike is also connecting Karen Richman and the other woman with the attorney general's office in an effort to get the money they say he owes them.