Feds raid Councilwoman Katrina Brown's business

Ken Amaro is on your side. 12/20/2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tuesday, during the lunch hour, customers found the doors locked at Jerome Brown BBQ's Commonwealth location.

The the only thing being served were subpoenas - not BBQ.

Agents from the FBI, IRS, SBA, HUD and JSO spent hours in the building before leaving with boxes of evidence, all wrapped in red tape.

"It is a disappointment," said Matt Schellenberg. He serves on the City Council's finance committee and has been a critic of the city's dealings with COWEALTH, LLC - which owns the business. 

Councilwoman Katrina Brown is a principal in the company which has defaulted on its city loan.

"This has been going on for eight, nine months," he said.

The councilman said it began in 2011. Brown and her company, COWEALTH, LLC borrowed nearly $3 million in government loans and grants to create a manufacturing plant.

The plant would produce Jerome Brown BBQ sauce and create 56 permanent jobs.

"It never happened," said Schellenberg.

The company was also required to present financials audits, but that did not happen either.

"Every year they're supposed to do an audited financial statement," he said. "They only did one in five years."

The City of Jacksonville's Office of Economic Development has put COWEALTH,LLC and Katrina Brown on notice several times, but they remain in default of the agreement.

"I doubt if we are ever going to get the money back," said Schellenberg.

The councilman said he learned the Brown family is trying to sell the warehouse and he believes the proceeds may not be enough to reimburse taxpayers.

He said the irony is that the councilwoman serves on the city council finance committee. And uses her position to counsel others about being delinquent to the city.

"It is disrespectful for the taxpayers and the administration," said Schellenberg,"to have to go back to the councilwoman and the business to renegotiate something without having the financials." 


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