Owe Money? Blame TARP or Bernie Madoff

Can't pay your bills? Blame Tim Geithner and Bernie Madoff! That's the route two restaurateurs are taking as their finances take a recessionary turn.

Ed "Jean Luc" Kleefeld, the owner of Hamptons celebrity mainstay Grappa, turned himself into the police after bouncing $300,000 in checks. Hetold Page Six that he borrowed money from "a concrete cement contractor with a criminal record" — is that code for a mobster? — in September, because, he claims, banks were unwilling to lend him the money:

In the current economy where banks are sitting on the money provided to them via the TARP arrangements, small business owners like me needed to find alternative sources of financing. I became involved with a provider of finance to support my business who I unfortunately realized later was a modern-day loan shark.

Meanwhile, Lotus, a Manhattan nightclub which closed in June, still hasn't paid back its suppliers. Investors are now blaming Madoff-related losses for stiffing their vendors — even though the Ponzi schemer wasn't arrested until December.

With every headline, these penniless punters gain a new story to tell about why the check is in the mail.

(Photo by Getty Images)