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|Blake’s on the Park unaffected by Farkas indictment, gay bar’s manager says|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|June 21, 2010 18:21|
Blake’s on the Park, the popular gay bar on 10th Street in Atlanta, will not close in the wake of Lee Farkas’ indictment on federal charges of financial improprieties, the bar’s general manager said today.
Rumors about the future of Blake’s have been rampant since last week, when Farkas was indicted on one count of conspiracy, six counts of bank fraud, six counts of wire fraud and three counts of securities fraud.
The charges are related to Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., the Ocala, Fla.-based mortgage lending company where he served as chairman and majority shareholder.
This morning, Blake’s General Manager David Stark said he could only comment that the bar was open for business today, deferring other questions to James Nelson. This afternoon, Stark said he could confirm that the bar is not shutting its doors due to Farkas’ problems.
“There are no plans either now or in the future to close Blake's,” Stark said. “We are open and continuing to conduct business as usual.”
Johnny Chisholm, a nightclub owner and party promoter, purchased Blake’s in 2003 from owner Alison Brown.
Thunderflower, LLC, purchased Blake’s on the Park, and the now defunct Atlanta gay bars Blu and WETbar, from Chisholm in 2004, according to a report in Ambush Magazine. Thunderflower, LLC, incorporated in Florida in 2004 with Lee Farkas as a manager.
In September 2008, Thunderflower closed WETbar but said Blake’s would not be impacted by the decision.
CPMG, LLC, a Georgia corporation, is now doing business as Blake’s on the Park, according to the minutes of a March 2010 meeting of the Atlanta License Review Board, which approved CPMG’s application to hold the annual Easter drag races in Blake’s parking lot.
CPMG, LLC, was created in April 2003, according to the Georgia Secretary of State office. James Nelson is the registered agent.
A name reservation for Blake’s on the Park, LLC, was filed with the Georgia Secretary of State on June 3, 2010.
Stark did not immediately respond to follow-up questions to clarify Farkas’ current relationship with Blake’s on the Park.
Blake’s on the Park is not listed among Farkas’ assets for forfeiture in the extensive federal indictment unsealed last week. Farkas, who is gay, lived in Florida and was a donor to Equality Florida, the state’s gay political group, among other causes.
Anthony Cochran, an attorney representing Farkas, said this morning that he did not have any information related to Farkas and Blake’s on the Park.
“We will try to speak with Lee to see if we can get answers to your questions,” Cochran said.
No further information was received today. Cochran has said publicly that Farkas, who remains jailed in Ocala, will plead not guilty to all of the charges.
Asked whether Blake’s on the Park is included in the federal investigation, Alisa Finelli, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said she could not comment on the ongoing investigation beyond what prosecutors have already released in court documents and press releases.
Those documents allege that Farkas masterminded a complex scheme to prop up his failing mortgage company, described in the June 15 indictment as “one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the United States,” by misappropriating more than $1 billion in funds from related banks, federal financial institutions, and the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
In a pre-trial detention motion filed June 16, federal prosecutors argued that Farkas should not be released from jail because his substantial assets and the fact that he faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted on all the charges make him a serious flight risk.
“As a result of the indictment, the defendant faces a total statutory maximum sentence of 435 years, fines of at least $13.75 million and forfeiture of at least $22 million,” the motion noted.
The document also alleges that in addition to the fraud, Farkas “misappropriated over $20 million in TBW funds for his personal use,” including some $2.7 million used as a down payment on a private jet. It further argues that Farkas has attempted to hide or liquidate some of his assets after finding out about the federal investigations.
“The defendant has recently quit claim deeded multiple properties to close associates for seemingly inadequate consideration,” the motion alleges.
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