New Sexual Assault Charges Against NJ Reality Show Chef
A New Jersey restaurant owner once featured on the Food Network's "Chopped" faces new charges of sexually assaulting a minor days after earlier charges were dismissed.
Shalom “Sal” Yehudiel, 40, of Fair Lawn, had been charged in March 2022 with first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
The charges were dropped Monday by a judge because the FBI failed to release a full video of the alleged victim in the case, which violated Yehudiel's due process rights, according to a NorthJersey.com report. If new evidence in the case was found, the case could be reinstated.
New charges in separate case filed
New sexual assault charges involving a teen who was 14 and 15 at the time were announced Thursday by Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel. The assaults took place between November 2016 and April 2017, investigators said. The new charges came from an investigation underway prior to the dismissal of the earlier charges.
The investigation was transferred from Bergen County in April due to a conflict of interest, according to Daniel.
According to Yehudiel's attorneys Lee Vartan and Zach Intrater, Daniel brought charges that were previously investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and rejected.
“As recently as February 2023, the Bergen County Prosecutor said it ‘did not support the issuance of criminal charges’ against Mr. Yehudiel. This is an abuse of process, and this case will be dismissed," Vartan and Intrater told New Jersey 101.5 in an email.
Arrested at the airport
Daniel said Yehudiel was arrested in New York on Tuesday, the same day the new charges were filed but not publically announced. Vartan and Intrater said their client was at JFK Airport trying to board a flight to Bangkok. He was being held in New York awaiting extradition to New Jersey.
The attorneys said their client was free to travel as the previous charges had been dropped and the new charges not yet filed.
“There was nothing to flee from," Vartan told New Jersey 101.5.
Claim to fame on TV
Yehudiel has sold both of his Teaneck restaurants, the Humble Toast and La Cucina Di Nava, an Italian restaurant that is kosher. He was the first chef to compete on The Food Channel's program "Chopped" using all kosher ingredients.
He won community praise for offering meals to those in need during the pandemic and donating to soup kitchens, according to NorthJersey.com.