A lawyer for prominent Catalina businessman Jack Tucey is alleging Tucey died earlier this month as a direct result of the several days he spent in jail after his arrest on suspicion of stealing wages from his employees.

Tucey, 80, and his wife Nora have owned numerous businesses on Catalina Island, including Original Jack’s Restaurant and Bakery and Original Antonio’s Pizzeria. In November, they were charged with 25 felonies for allegedly stealing more than $1 million in wages from their employees over the span of 15 years.

Customers eat outside Original Jack’s in Avalon on Catalina Island Thursday, July 2, 2020. The restaurant remains open as the owners are being prosecuted for felony wage theft. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

After their arrest on Nov 2. on Catalina, Tucey and Nora posted a combined bail of $500,000 before being released on Nov. 7, records show.

Once released, Tucey had to be rushed to the hospital, according to attorney Michael Kraut, who was retained to defend the couple in the criminal case.

“He could not walk without help and had difficulty breathing,” Kraut said.

Tucey, a diabetic, requires dialysis two or three times per week, Kraut said. As part of his treatment, there are certain foods that he should avoid, including beans and peanut butter. While in custody in the medical ward, Kraut said Tucey was repeatedly fed bean burritos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

After being arrested, Tucey was given one dialysis treatment before being medically cleared for booking on Nov. 3, according to the DA’s Office. Kraut alleges Tucey was not given his regular pill regimen for three days.

“He also had an open sore on his wrist because they kept him chained to the bed,” Kraut said.

Tucey was released from the hospital briefly but soon returned and died at the facility on Dec. 2, according to Kraut. He did not answer questions about Tucey’s official cause of death or whether an autopsy was performed.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department referred questions related to Tucey’s dietary restrictions and other medical services to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which administers inmate health care. The agency declined to comment on any services it provided to Tucey, including his diet, citing patient privacy laws.

Kraut alleges the Tuceys never should have been incarcerated. He cited the couple’s ages and Jack’s health issues as evidence that they were not a danger to the public nor a flight risk.

Kraut called the arrests and a press conference announcing the charges a “dog and pony show” designed to bolster Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s image by taking down “some very wealthy white people.”

The DA’s Office said the Tuceys were arrested and jailed due to the severity of the case. The original DA announcement stated each of the Tuceys were expected to be held on $590,000 bail, but the DA’s Office did not object when it was reduced to $250,000 each.

As for the press conference, the DA’s Office said it was necessary for the case.

“It is the norm when we believe that there are a significant number of other victims who are unaware of their rights or are unaware of their ability to get the protection of the law if they’ve been victimized by individuals,” the DA’s Office said in an email Tuesday.

The case against Tucey’s wife Nora, 75, is moving forward, according to the DA’s office, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 20, 2023.

When asked if the family is considering a wrongful death or other suit against the county, Kraut said he is not a civil attorney and would not handle any such case, but added that “all facts are being considered by the family.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the timeline of Tucey’s arrest and treatment.