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Man found off Mendocino Coast was troubled restaurateur

SACRAMENTO — The co-owner of a Sammy Hagar-themed restaurant in Northern California has been found dead, authorities said Wednesday, casting a shadow over plans for a downtown revival in a Sacramento suburb.

A body found last weekend by recreational divers off the coast of Gualala has been identified as that of 57-year-old Stephen Clark Pease, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department said in a news release. He was found to have hip replacement implants during an autopsy Tuesday, and serial numbers from the implants were used to identify the body. The coroner's office is still investigating the cause of death.

He was last seen Nov. 3 when he checked out of a hotel in Fort Bragg, more than 50 miles from where his body was found. He was driving a rental car that has not been recovered.

A sheriff's spokesman did not return several telephone calls seeking additional information. According to the department's news release, the body was retrieved by a state Department of Fish and Wildlife warden who swam out and pulled it ashore, where it had to be airlifted because of the steep terrain.

Pease was an owner of Sammy's Rockin' Island Bar & Grill and other businesses in Roseville, 20 miles northeast of Sacramento.

The year-old restaurant closed after he disappeared and is more than $9,000 behind on a $1.5 million loan with the Roseville Community Development Corp. It was designed to anchor downtown redevelopment for the city of 124,000.

The city declared Sept. 15, 2012, to be "Sammy Hagar Day" to tout the restaurant's opening, with a concert and street party featuring Hagar and his band. The restaurant licensed Hagar's name, but the rocker does not have an ownership stake, city spokesman Brian Jacobson said.

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