Rascal Flatts is responding to a scathing expose published by the Arizona Republic, detailing how the country music trio’s plans to open a nationwide chain of branded restaurants went belly-up under the stewardship of an alleged mobster who allegedly swindled investors out of millions.
According to the newspaper, the band — made up of members Joe Don Rooney, Jay DeMarcus and Gary LeVox — entered into a licensing agreement with Frank Capri, the alias of alleged “mafia soldier” Frank Gioia Jr. that was given to him when he entered the federal Witness Protection Program in 1999 after testifying against members of the Lucchese Crime Family.
The expose documents an array of criminal activity, noting that only one Rascal Flatts restaurant was ever completed (it closed a year after opening), while numerous others planned for various parts of the U.S. simply fell through.
In addition, Capri is also allegedly connected to the failure of several restaurants branded to country singer Toby Keith, with lawsuits claiming he “stiffed contractors, broke lease agreements and took millions of dollars meant to pay for construction.”
However, the band maintains it had no association with Capri and his alleged misdeeds, and only agreed to license the band’s name for the project.
“The band terminated the license agreement and is no longer in business with this company or Mr. Capri,” Rascal Flatts’ publicist, Kristie Sheppard Sloan, said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Rascal Flatts licensed use of their name, image and logo to the restaurant developer and had nothing to do with the construction or build out plans for these restaurants. The use of the Rascal Flatts name in association with restaurants owned by RF IP, LLC or Frank Capri is no longer authorized.”
Earlier this year, Rascall Flatts attempted to distance itself from the aborted restaurant project.
“You may have noticed our name was associated with a restaurant project,” the band wrote on Twitter in January.
“We ended the agreement and do not have a business relationship with the developer,” the band added. “They are not authorized to use our name in any way. We wanted to be transparent to our fans in case there was any confusion related to our involvement in the restaurants.”