JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Kevin Wicker, part owner of River City productions and recording, says his life right now is like a sad country song.
His recording studio sits empty. His business partner and financial backer, Jerry Bass, bonded out of Seminole County jail Thursday afternoon in connection with an Internet cafe illegal gambling scheme involving Allied Veterans of the World. His bond had been reduced from $1 million to $350,000.
Meanwhile, Wicker is out of money.
"I don't have a way to support my family," he said. "I don't know too many people here that are going to hire a guitar picker."
Wicker says he's known Bass (pictured, below) for 30 years, and when Bass approached him to move from Nashville, Tenn., to Jacksonville to start up a recording studio, Wicker jumped at the opportunity.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Jerry Bass, 62, who was national commander of Allied Veterans of the World and described by the FDLE as one of the four leaders of the conspiracy.
"Jerry's role was to provide a little backing to get this all built and get the ball rolling," Wicker said. "We signed no agreement."
"He put me on a cash salary," he added. "I thought, I don't know why he is doing cash, but I didn't care. It goes to the bank, and it's in the bank."
A clip of Bass promoting the recording studio can be found on YouTube. Shortly after it was posted online, Bass was arrested on charges of racketeering and money laundering.
"He gets arrested and the bottom falls out. I'm the only one left standing here," Wicker said.
Wicker says he can't pay his electric bill and the lease on this studio, which he says is in Bass' name and is up in April.
"I'm going to start doing demos here and start doing jobs of doing whatever," Wicker said. "Right now all I can get is a job at the Waffle House, and if that's the case, see you at the waffle house."
Wicker says he needs $3,000 a month to keep the studio going, and he's determined to do that because he, like his partner, believes this city has talent.
The Jacksonville Landing says it has spoken with Wicker and told him it is more than willing to work with him within reason to keep the studio there. Even though it is aware of Bass' arrest, because the rent is paid and the lease current, it has not reached out to Bass.
Bass' attorney did not return calls for comment.
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