Former Ozark restaurant owner Benjamin Lambert appeared before a judge for the first time in his five-count indictment involving accusations of sex crimes with children.
A Christian County grand jury indicted Lambert, 50, on two counts of sexual trafficking a child under the age of 18, one class B felony count of sexual exploitation of a minor, one class C felony of possession of child pornography and one class D felony count of third degree promoting prostitution in September.
Lambert appeared briefly in circuit court in Christian County on Oct. 3. Lambert had already posted a $100,000 surety bond and his case was reset to Dec. 6.
Defense attorneys Dee Wampler of Springfield and Martin Gilmore of Sikeston explained to Circuit Judge Laura Johnson that Lambert now resides in a nursing home facility in southeastern Missouri and that he wears an electronic monitoring device on one of his ankles.
“(Lambert) is on electronic monitoring, I wanted to make sure the court knew that,” Wampler said. “So the court is advised, he is in a nursing home near the Sikeston area, and he does have GPS monitoring on at his expense.”
The judge ordered Lambert to surrender his passport, but Lambert had no passport to surrender.
Gilmore said that Lambert suffered from aneurysms and seizures. Lambert suffers from memory loss, Gilmore said.
“We have been told by his doctors that he has reached, probably, maximum medical improvements as far as his memory is concerned. They are hoping that they can get some more mobility going, but as far as short term and long term memory, they don’t think there will be too much change,” Gilmore said.
Lambert is the son of Lambert's Cafe founder Norman Lambert, and is also one of the original signers of the incorporating documents of the Ozark Lambert's Cafe according to documentation with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office. Lambert's Cafe issued a statement on Facebook on Sept. 21, shortly after Ben Lambert's charges because publicly known.
"We were surprised and saddened to hear the news and charges of Ben’s indictment. While Ben is the son of Norman Lambert, he has not been active in the management of the store in recent years," the statement reads.
The restaurant serves up to 3,000 customers per day. Wampler said Lambert has been distanced from the restaurant’s operation for years.
“He has not been actively involved in the management of the restaurant here in Ozark for eight years,” Wampler said. “He, as far as I know, really hasn’t even graced the inside of the restaurant for about a year and a half at least, to eat.”
Wampler noted that any allegations of wrongdoing pertain to activities which occurred in or around a house Lambert owns in Ozark.
“There are no allegations, directly or indirectly thus far, that anything happened on Lambert’s restaurant property—none,” Wampler said.
The Lambert's Cafe in Ozark has been incorporated since 1992. The restaurant is one of Christian County's most recognized restaurants and attractions.
"Lambert’s would never condone behavior of this nature. Lambert’s Cafe will continue to be a destination for family entertainment," the Lambert's statement reads.
In addition to the Ozark location, Lambert's operates its original restaurant in Sikeston, in New Madrid County, and another restaurant in Foley, Alabama.