Timothy Rankin acquitted of food critic beatdown

Barnes assault2.jpg
photo Steve Barnes
Albany Times Union restaurant critic Steve Barnes after the attack.
Two years ago, Times Union restaurant critic Steve Barnes and a friend were brutally beaten outside an Albany, New York, restaurant. Two brothers, Jason and Gerald Spiegel, were later apprehended and admitted carrying out the attack.

But here's the weird part: Barnes suspected that an Albany bar owner, Timothy Rankin, solicited the Spiegels to attack him after he had reported some negative stories about Rankin's bar, including having his liquor license suspended, being the subject of a police raid for underage drinking, and holding "bikini contests."

The prosecution charged Rankins and submitted the testimony of Jason Spiegel who said his brother told him they could get free drinks at Rankin's bar. Two of Rankins chefs testified that he'd made threats against Barnes. Cell phone records also showed that Gerald Spiegel called Rankins a few minutes after the attack.

But in the end, the jury decided that the evidence was circumstantial. Rankins was acquitted, Jason Spiegel pleaded guilty to an assault charge, but did not serve any jail time and Gerald Spiegel's case was thrown out due to procedural missteps by the prosecutors.

Fortunately, Barnes has recovered from the attack and continues to write about everything from bottles of 1969 Chateau Mouton Rothschild to great biscuits and gravy.

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