Hours before the Thursday morning meeting of the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee, we can report that a member’s business faces a foreclosure suit.
CoWealth LLC, the family business of Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown, was named Tuesday as a co-defendant in a foreclosure suit filed by BizCapital of New Orleans.
Other co-defendants include two more Brown family businesses, Basic Products and KJB Specialties, along with Jerome Brown, JoAnn Brown, the city of Jacksonville, the State of Florida, and FirstSun Lenders.
The Browns’ business troubles have been reported on by this outlet with a numbing regularity of late, as cash flow problems and leveraged out borrowing have led to what appears to be a state of perpetual arrears and debt delinquency.
The irony: though even one financial issue like this would disqualify someone from even a cubicle job in the financial services industry, Councilwoman Brown continues to participate in decision making regarding the city’s finances, both on the Finance Committee and the council at large.
The latest property being foreclosed upon, according to the Lis Pendens notice, is bordered by Ellis, Broadway, and Commonwealth Avenue on the Westside.
This property corresponds with the Browns’ barbeque sauce plant (5638 Commonwealth Ave.), which is currently listed at $1.3 million — down from $1.5 million months ago, indicating a motivated seller. That asking price is less than half of Biz Capital’s claim: $2.772M is what they claim is owed.
(As well, a second property (1436 Bassett Road) is listed in the latest Lis Pendens also. Jerome Brown has not paid property taxes on that since 2013, continuing a long recent history of the Browns not paying property and sales taxes in a timely manner.)
CoWealth originally borrowed $2.65 million from Biz Capital, in addition to $380,000 from the city. The city’s interest is subordinate to that of Biz Capital.
The Browns, via shell companies, received in 2011 an economic incentive package of $640,000 in loans and grants from the city of Jacksonville to create 56 jobs in the plant.
No jobs were created, however, and Jacksonville filed suit two weeks ago against CoWealth for $210,000, as a clawback for failed job creation.
Councilwoman Brown is a registered managing member of CoWealth, though that can change at any time, if the recent history of the Browns’ businesses means anything.
Two days ago, we reported on the aforementioned KJB Specialties being sued in a foreclosure action on a building at 1551 Edgewood Ave. W., the location of Jerome Brown BBQ.
The Browns moved Katrina off of the Sunbiz listing for KJB before hiring an attorney who specializes in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.
Katrina Brown was dogged by claims of slipshod financial management throughout her 2015 campaign for city council, with an opponent making an issue of an overdue property tax bill even then.
Katrina Brown, a Corrine Brown “Quick Pick”, won that election narrowly.
But the questions about the Browns’ business operations are clearly unresolved.