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Emergency hearing looms in Jax councilor’s family biz bankruptcy case

Earlier this month, “KJB Specialties D/B/A Jerome Brown BBQ” a business owned by the family of Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

With that filing comes a need to work out details: among them, salaries of the company’s officers.

Last week, the councilor’s parents, JoAnn Brown and Jerome Brown, filed motions for an emergency hearing to ensure they kept their salaries as they were in 2016: north of $74,000.

As the filing on each Brown’s motion asserted, “it would cost the company substantially more to find a replacement … if they were even willing to step in.”

“An emergency hearing is necessary to avoid immediate and irreparable harm to the estate,” the motions declare.

That salar hearing is slated for 2:30 PM on April 3 in Courtroom 4-D of the Duval County Courthouse

KJB Specialties is a guarantor of a loan taken out by another Brown family business, CoWealth LLC, which is being sued by the city for failing to come through on job creation tied to loans and grants via the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund.

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A cynic might say that “immediate and irreparable harm to the estate” is not the major issue here, as the Browns owe big-league money to a variety of creditors.

Below, a brief recap of some of the issues.

In February, KJB hired the aforementioned bankruptcy lawyer, in response to a foreclosure action on the Browns’ flagship restaurant, Jerome Brown BBQ.

The Browns owe roughly $100,000 on that note.

The Brown family businesses have had a rough decade, with CoWealth LLC, another in their group of nebulously named companies, being sued by the city of Jacksonville for failing to create jobs in a 2011 economic development agreement intended to help the Browns take their BBQ sauce business to the next level.

As is the case with KJB, CoWealth is subject to its own foreclosure action.

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.

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.

However, Chapter 11 will frustrate the purposes of the Browns’ businesses’ creditors on these and more picayune fronts.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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