• Action News Jax Investigates Latitude 360: Where'd the money go?

    By: Jenna Bourne

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bounced checks, broken promises and canceled health insurance -- Action News Jax has spent months investigating the failed local hot spot Latitude 360.

    Now, a corporate whistle blower takes us inside the company’s finances and failures.

    Without warning, former Latitude 360 employee Andrew Cabrera and dozens of other workers, were out of a job, denied unemployment benefits, and health insurance he paid for isn't there.

    With his wife due with their baby boy any day, Cabrera said he’s desperate.

    “It's been terrible. I mean, everybody's -- like I said -- scrambling around trying to get jobs. Nobody, of course, in the service industry is really hiring right now because it's right after Christmas,” said Cabrera.

    Employees said the shutdown happened fast.

    “It just started spiraling down, just very, very, very rapidly," said former Latitude 360 banquet server Michelle Samala.

    Former bowling counter manager Marcus Rodriguez said just days before the shutdown, CEO Brent Brown promised the entire staff a raise.

    “It was all a setup. It was all a lie," said Rodriguez.

    A woman who worked in the corporate office tells Action News Jax she saw the collapse coming.

    “It's been going down since it started. It's just a matter of when," she said.

    She's asked us not to reveal her identity out of fear of retaliation.

    Action News Jax asked her why employees’ checks were always bouncing.

    “Because there was never any money in the account. I don't know where it went because the venues were making a lot of money. Everyone in corporate was making a lot of money. So I guess that's where it all went,” she said.

    Documents show Latitude 360 owes more than $1.5 million in federal, state and county taxes.         

    “I mean, you've seen the house Brent [Brown] lives in and his car. And he's got multiple Range Rovers," said the corporate whistleblower.

    Brown lives in a gated waterfront home in San Marco -- that is, when he's not living in his New York City apartment on Broadway and when he's not working out of his second San Marco home.

    For six months, Action News Jax has worked to get Brown on camera for an interview.

    After promising to sit down for an interview on Jan. 7, Brown never again returned our calls.   

    While he hides behind the gates of his waterfront home, his former employees face financial ruin.

    The father of a newborn, Rodriguez is now facing eviction and his health insurance was canceled.

    “That money would go where? Almost like it was being pocketed," said Rodriguez.

    “If I were to be talking to him [Brown], I’d be like, you're stupid. I mean, honestly, you had a great thing going. You had a great business going. And I don't understand where the -- where did the money go?" said Samala.

    Action News Jax broke the news last week that the State Attorney’s Office is investigating Latitude 360.

    The IRS, Department of Revenue, FBI and Florida Office of Financial Regulation will not confirm whether they are investigating as well.

    Brown declined to comment when Action News Jax texted him asking if he plans to open two new Latitude 360 locations in Philadelphia and Atlanta.

    Plans for new locations in Syracuse, Albany and Minneapolis have fallen through over the years.

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