JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Brent Brown, the former owner of Latitude 360, was arraigned Wednesday in federal court on 17 counts of failing to pay the IRS payroll taxes from his employees.
Brown, who was indicted earlier this month, pleaded not guilty.
The judge set a status conference in March and the trial term to start April 4.
Both sides agreed to share their witness list before the trial gets started.
News4JAX caught Brown going to and leaving the federal court hearing. His attorney, Hank Coxe, didn’t want to comment.
“I have never talked about a pending case in my career and I’m not starting right now, OK,” Coxe said. “It’s just that simple.”
Brown opened Latitude 360 in Jacksonville in 2011, originally called Latitude 30. The entertainment complex was located on Philips Highway near The Avenues Mall.
According to the indictment, Brown also operated three Latitude 360 locations in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Albany. The indictment said payroll taxes weren’t paid for employees in Jacksonville, as well as at the other locations.
The indictment said the four subsidiaries withheld taxes from employee wages, including federal income taxes, in 2015 and 2016, but failed to send the taxes to the federal government. The taxes owed total more than $1 million, according to the indictment.
If Brown is found guilty of all 17 counts, he could get 85 years in prison and face over $4 million in fees.
In 2016, former employees had told News4JAX that some of their paychecks had bounced. That same year, Latitude 360 in Jacksonville closed after it was evicted. The landlord said the business was $3 million behind on rent.
In 2018, Brown was charged in Duval County with failing to send sales taxes to the state. He later pleaded guilty and was given probation.