Mahogany's owner issues statement following arrest; council has no comment

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young is the only city council member talking with FOX19 about Liz Rogers turning herself in Tuesday afternoon to the Butler County Sheriff's Office.

Rogers had a warrant out for her arrest for a $3,000 debt. Court records say she was subpoenaed to appear for a judgement debtor's exam and didn't show up.

"I don't know why she is the subject of so much scrutiny," said Young.

Rogers is the owner of Mahogany's, a soul food based restaurant in Hamilton trying to open a new location at The Banks development downtown.

FOX19 contacted every council member via phone, text or in person to obtain a comment on Rogers.

Cecil Thomas said, "No, no, no, this stuff needs to die. Let it die."

Laure Quinlivan said, "No. No. Thanks."

P.G. Sittenfeld said, "No comment."

Roxanne Qualls said, "No comment."

Charlie Winburn said, "No comment."

Chris Seelbach said, "No comment."

Chris Smitherman said, "No comment."

Yvette Simpson said, "No comment."

Council members Young, Simpson, Winburn, Sittenfeld, Quinlivan and Thomas all voted yes to give Mahogany's nearly $1 million in grants and loans to open her restaurant at The Banks.

Council members Smitherman, Seelbach and Qualls voted no.

"Liz Rogers' deal is for $300,000. That's all. The rest of the money in that deal is tied up in the property itself, it's not going into her pocket," said Young, who feels Rogers is being unfairly singled out.

"I guess the idea being that if you can get council to change their minds about her and this deal that there won't be anyone that looks like her at The Banks, that may make some people happy," said Young.

Rogers was released on bail Tuesday shortly after she turned herself in.

Rogers is also under scrutiny due to unpaid taxes. She says she is currently paying off a $49,223 tax lien to the IRS.

Rogers says that these unpaid taxes come from another business she owned, and the City of Cincinnati was aware of the taxes when they approved the grants and loans.

She released the following statement early Wednesday morning:

Since 2010, I have operated a successful, growing business in the City of Hamilton in Butler County and am looking forward to expanding that business in Hamilton County.

Recent media accounts have reported on my actions today regarding my proactive approach as a responsible business owner to address an alleged obligation related to my previous business, Brooklyn Spa of Forest Park, which is not attached or connected to Mahogany's. Brooklyn Spa is no longer in operation and has not been in operation since 2008. The legal proceeding stemmed from a dispute regarding the quality of the services that Queen City Computer provided to Brooklyn Spa. These proceedings were in no way related to Mahogany's or the collateral provided to the City by Mahogany's. When I became aware of the unresolved issue in Butler County over the weekend, I worked with the Butler County Sheriff's Department to initiate the legal steps to resolve the matter. Although there may be no merit to the case, at the time of this statement, the total amount in question has been posted with the Butler County Sheriff's Department, and any other related procedural matters will be addressed accordingly.

This is not a new issue and neither is the information that is being reported in the media. These issues were disclosed along with all relevant credit information over the twelve month period during which I pursued this project with the City of Cincinnati. I have worked diligently as a partner with the City Administration to conduct a full and complete assessment of my business history and ability to expand my business into Cincinnati at the Banks.

My grant and loan package were vetted by the City Administration and approved by the majority of Council. Since the approval, it appears that I have become the subject of a heightened level of scrutiny and several unfavorable media reports pertaining to my business and my character. I am unclear as to why and would like to once again put these issues to rest. Despite the events of the past couple of weeks, I remain excited about the possibility of bringing new jobs to the City of Cincinnati as I have done in Hamilton.  

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