CINCINNATI - Records show the owner of a new restaurant coming to The Banks with the help of Cincinnati taxpayers has had tax liens and judgments against her in the past.
Earlier this week, the owner of Mahogany restaurant in Hamilton, Elizabeth A. Rogers, paid off overdue property taxes.
The Butler County Clerk of Courts shows seven judgments against Rogers, also known as Liz Rogers.
Rogers hopes to open a second location at The Banks this spring with almost $1 million in help from the city: A $684,000 grant and $300,000 in loans.
Butler County court records show Rogers has been late with bills and loans before. The judgments date back to 2004, but most of them were in the five years leading up to 2010.
The judgments include tax liens from the Ohio Department of Taxation for amounts up to $6,700 and judgments from $1,700 to $11,500 each to various businesses.
The records don't fully indicate if those bills have been paid, but Sean Rugless, president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati A frican American Chamber of Commerce, said someone had stolen Rogers' identity and some of those judgments were not really against her.
In a phone call to 9 News, Rugless said he was sitting next to Rogers, that she has no outstanding bills and that any questions about her intentions to pay back the city loans are unfounded. Rugless also said Rogers was distressed at the allegations against her.
9 News also contacted the city's spokeswoman, Meg Olberding. She said the city was aware of the allegations, but the city is very committed to diversity in developments downtown.
"To change the status quo requires risk sometimes," Olberding said. "Right now our downtown does not reflect a good portion of the population of the city. The city does do deals that are different than private sector does. This is a deal worth pursuing because of what it means for development downtown."
Below are comments from Olberding regarding court documents detailing previous liens and judgments:
"The Administration was aware of these and did probe them with the Rogers before making our funding recommendation to Council."
"We were aware there was delinquency on some taxes and were assured there was a payment plan. We are still in the midst of due diligence on that property. As part of the lease and moving forward we would have to go further to make sure the lease is executed and that they have sufficient equity invested in the property before we would release any city funds. $300,000."
"The City is committed to the growth of The Banks that represents the diversity that our city offers."
"To change the status quo requires risk sometimes. Right now our downtown does not reflect a good portion of the population of the city. The city does do deals that are different than private sector does. This is a deal worth pursuing because of what it means for development downtown."