Ah, the tangled web of nightlife ownership. A while back, Serge Becker, part-owner of The Box and La Esquina, told us in a statement that Cordell Lochin, the young scenester who presented himself as a partner in Becker’s restaurants before being convicted of drug-conspiracy charges, was merely an “indispensable advisor.” A December 15 memo from a government attorney calls that assertion into question, pointing at an undated letter from Becker that describes Lochin as “more than just a business partner.” That letter pleads for leniency because his company is “in the design stage of our second location of ‘La Esquina’ in Miami Beach at ‘the Gale’ hotel.” Exciting news, innit?
The attorney’s letter, which you can view here, points to conflicting documentation and concludes: “These issues create a question whether any ownership or operation agreement relating to La Esquina was changed as a result of defendant’s arrest on the pending charges to create an appearance that defendant had no ownership in the establishment.”
Then there’s the matter of Lochin’s ownership in The Box. According to the federal prosecutor, a September 2006 Investor Prospectus indicates Becker and Lochin were then in the process of negotiating a $500,000 investment in The Box in return for a 25 percent share of its parent company, Variety Entertainment Group. An e-mail from Becker to the defense counsel indicates Lochin had a 40 percent stake in that Box investment.
What doesn’t seem to be in dispute is that Lochin was drawing a $50,000 salary from La Esquina, plus a $6,250 monthly share of La Esquina’s profits, plus a $1,000 monthly check from The Box (documents indicate Becker and Lochin were reinvesting their profits from the latter), adding up to an annual income of $177,000. In case you’ve ever wondered what a “tastemaker” pulls in
Lochin’s next sentencing hearing will be on January 14. In the meantime do make sure to read Becker’s letter to the judge paying homage: “Cordell has proven himself to be the most gracious host to the city’s most discerning audience.... There isn’t a person too little or unimportant to him to not be of help, or brighten their day with his smile. From the dry cleaner at the corner to the governor, he approaches all people with the same open helpful stance.” If, of course, you have his digits...