When John Hutchins announced in July 2016 that he had acquired a property on Main Street next to his Rapids Theater and that he planned to renovate it and open a pub and grill, a Falls Economic Development Officer called the development “one of the biggest private sector investments we have”. I’ve seen “on North Main Street for decades”.
The NFC Development Corp. The city, which oversees loans and grants for small business development, even approved a $ 100,000 NFC business assistance grant and a $ 150,000 NFC direct loan for the project.
But nearly four years later, with no work being done on the property, NFC’s board of directors terminated the loan and grant for the project. The money had never been paid to Hutchins.
Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said a combination of factors led to the project being shut down.
“There were documents that John’s company just never filed,” the mayor said.
But another lingering concern of the NFC board was the financial condition of a multitude of companies controlled by Hutchins and the state of the Lewiston businessman’s personal finances.
âThere were credit problems,â confirmed Retaino.
Since then, Hutchins’ finances and those of many of its business entities appear to have come under the scrutiny of federal law enforcement. Over $ 403,000 was seized from the bank accounts of a Hutchins employee and an apparently affiliated company.
A file filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of New York shows that more than $ 402,000 was seized from a Bank on Buffalo account linked to CWE Entertainment Corp. The company is said to be controlled by Roberto M. Soliman, the executive chief financial officer of 1711 Main LLC, a Hutchins holding company that operates the Rapids Theater.
Federal authorities also seized more than $ 1,700 from a personal Bank on Buffalo account associated with Soliman.
There are no documents at the registry of the federal court which explain the reasons for the seizures. It is not known when the money was seized.
A spokesperson for the local FBI office in Buffalo did not immediately respond to a call for comment. A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York told The Gazette: “We do not confirm or deny the investigations.”
The rapids seem to be working normally.
A concert by blues guitarist Coco Montoya went as planned on October 8th. The artist and concert promoter said they were paid in full for the event.
A wedding is scheduled to take place at the theater later in the day.