The founder and CEO of four defunct Latitude 360 entertainment complexes, including his first in Jacksonville, was indicted Friday for failing to pay more than $1 million in payroll taxes to the IRS, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Brent Brown, who opened Latitude 360 in Jacksonville in early 2011, is charged with 17 counts of failure to remit taxes withheld from employees, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. If convicted, he faces up to five years in federal prison on each count.
The indictments are the latest in a series of issues Brown faced that included the 2016 closure of Jacksonville’s facility at 10370 Philips Highway near The Avenues mall.
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Originally called Latitude 30, the entertainment center included a game room, bowling, theater, restaurant and more, adding a parking garage a year after opening. It employed about 125 people, Brown said at the time. Other locations opened in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, and the company changed the names of each to Latitude 360. More locations were planned.
According to the indictment, Brown renamed and incorporated Latitude 360 in Jacksonville in early 2014 and exercised exclusive authority to determine the use of business funds at all four of his operations.
Those subsidiaries each withheld taxes from employee wages, including Federal Insurance Contributions Act money, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Brown filed quarterly tax returns for each of the subsidiaries, but the full amounts of payroll taxes due to the IRS were not remitted, prosecutors said.
A beleaguered past
Brown and his business faced other issues.
By December 2014, 60 lawsuits had been filed against Latitude 360. Then in 2015, his landlord wanted to evict the entertainment centers from the buildings in Jacksonville and Indianapolis, saying they are millions of dollars behind in rent.
The landlord, 30 West Pershing, claimed it was owed about $5.8 million in back rent at the two locations, as well as a construction loan for improvements to the Indianapolis location.
Facing eviction and other financial issues, Jacksonville’s Latitude 360 closed for good in the first week of 2016 and also shut down its Indianapolis location. At the time, Brown said he settled with 30 West Pershing to release the company of all liabilities. Latitude 360’s Pittsburgh location was not part of the lawsuit.
In early 2017 the Pittsburgh operation had to make a last-minute $46,857 payment of delinquent county beverage taxes as officials threatened to padlock the business. That came after the Indianapolis location shut down when the Indiana Department of Revenue plastered it with signs suggesting it had failed to turn over sales taxes, according to the Indianapolis Star.
At the same time, the IRS filed three liens totaling almost a half-million dollars against Latitude 360 and its various entities, while the Florida Department of Revenue filed a lien for $147,390 claiming unpaid sales and use taxes.
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Latitude 360 also was ordered to pay $25,668 to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for license fees to play music. And the company’s former chief financial officer was awarded $67,500 in late 2016 after filing a lawsuit claiming the company owed him back wages.
In June 2016 a 64-year-old Jacksonville woman said she was hit by Brown’s vehicle as she attempted to serve him with a summons outside his San Marco home. The woman reported that Brown drove toward her, and when she tried to get out of the way she was hit in the arms and knee, according to the police report.
And in August 2017, Brown was facing a 34-count arrest warrant on one charge of theft of services and the rest bad checks, according to court records.
The Jacksonville site now operates as the Main Event, one of 40-plus family entertainment centers operated by Main Event Entertainment out of Texas, with no connection to Latitude 360.
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