Brent Brown, the former owner of the Latitude 360 entertainment complex in Jacksonville, has entered a guilty plea to a federal tax evasion charge. The case, initiated with a 2022 indictment, originally included 17 counts related to Brown’s failure to remit payroll taxes withheld from employees of Latitude 360 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, as part of a plea agreement, Brown pleaded guilty to a single count and has committed to paying $3.8 million in restitution. This sum not only covers the taxes associated with the criminal charge, which amounted to over $1 million, but also encompasses additional taxes for which he was not criminally charged.
Latitude 360, situated near The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville, was launched by Brown in early 2011. The entertainment complex boasted subsidiaries in other states, and according to the indictment, these entities failed to remit federal income taxes withheld from employee wages during the years 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, Latitude 360 faced financial challenges and closed its doors in January 2016. Following the closure, Brown filed for bankruptcy, leaving numerous employees unpaid for their work. The closure also triggered legal issues, with Brown facing 34 charges in Pennsylvania related to questionable business dealings, including issues like non-payment of employees and distributing pay through bad checks.
The auction held by Latitude 360 in 2016 aimed to generate funds to address the outstanding tax obligations, but the proceeds fell short of the amounts owed. Now, with Brown’s guilty plea, he could potentially face a prison sentence of up to five years. The sentencing date has not been set at this time. The Latitude 360 saga serves as a cautionary tale of financial mismanagement and legal challenges faced by businesses, particularly in the entertainment and hospitality industry, underscoring the importance of compliance with tax regulations and financial responsibilities.