JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The State Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into the bounced paychecks the owner of Latitude 360 wrote to employees before the entertainment center closed last month.
“I can confirm the State Attorney’s Office has talked with citizens in our community who have concerns regarding this business. It would be inappropriate to discuss further this active investigation," spokeswoman Jackie Barnard said.
News4Jax reported last month that Latitude 360 failed to report wages to the government and a group of ex-employees of the recently evicted business were planning legal action against their former employer.
The employees accused the now shut-down entertainment company and its founder and CEO, Brent Brown, of failing to pay their wages.
Some said they are owed a lot of money and others said they can’t draw unemployment because the company didn't keep proper records to show that they worked there.
“We’re trying to get a lawsuit going so we can go ahead and file against Brent Brown, because we were denied, because it says we weren’t employed at Latitude 30,” Kyle Butler said.
Latitude 30 is the former name of Latitude 360.
A representative of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said in a statement Wednesday that Latitude 360 failed to report any wages to the Florida Department of Revenue.
The ex-employees of the popular restaurant and entertainment complex, which offered everything from midnight bowling to video games and a movie theater, met Tuesday with past pay stubs in hand at a CareerSource facility on the Southside.
The group decided to either sign up for unemployment or be denied, which the employees think could help with a lawsuit.
“Today we’re going to come up here (and) figure out what unemployment is going to do, because as far as we know, they don’t have any record of us working at Latitude,” Andrew Cabrera said.
The employees said they were either given checks that bounced or sometimes cash from a safe at the business.
“We knew there were a couple (of) shady things going on,” Cabrera said. “They kept assuring us there were no problems, and sure enough, they come and lock the doors on us.”
The business unexpectedly closed its doors in January after it was evicted from its location across from the Avenues Mall on Philips Highway. The landlord said the company owed nearly $3 million in back rent.