Ex-Mobster Behind Failed Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith Restaurant Chains Charged With Fraud
Frank Capri, a developer with ties to the Mafia, has been charged with fraud and other crimes related to the collapse of two restaurant chains with country music ties. The Arizona resident scammed contractors and developers, walking away from contracts and pocketing large sums of money intended for the construction of a failed Rascal Flatts-branded restaurant chain and Toby Keith's now-defunct I Love This Bar and Grill.
According to the Arizona Republic, 52-year-old Capri, whose real name is Frank Gioia Jr.; his 68-year-old mother, Debbie Corvo; and an unnamed third person have been indicted by a federal grand jury on 16 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. The charges were handed down on Jan. 28.
In early 2019, the Arizona Republic published an in-depth investigation, which the newspaper began in 2015, into Capri's Mafia ties. The former Frank Gioia Jr. received help from the Federal Witness Protection Program after finishing a prison sentence and used his new identity to fashion himself as a restaurateur, real-estate investor and commercial developer.
Capri's companies, in which his mother was involved, built 20 of Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill restaurants, and had announced that 20 more were in the works. However, by 2015, the chain had all but folded, dogged by financial problems that stemmed from unpaid taxes. Lawsuits and allegations were leveled against Capri following the closures, but in 2017, he claimed no wrongdoing and cited the issues as nothing "other than the product of a business failure."
Capri's name never appeared on any documents associated with Rascal Flatts' restaurants, which had been in the works for a number of years before the country trio announced in January of 2019 that they were severing ties with the developer to whom they had licensed their name, image and logo. However, the Republic uncovered the fact that he oversaw key aspects of the venture, using his girlfriend, Tawny Costa, and her business associate as a front while controlling major business decisions from behind the scenes. In March of 2019, Costa admitted to being involved in the scam, claiming in texts to the Republic that Capri manipulated her into it.
Capri will go to trial on April 7.
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