More unpaid BottleRock bills as debt tops $2 million

Organizer maintains event is owed vendor money, but lawyer says opposite is true
2013-07-02T17:23:00Z 2014-05-01T14:35:20Z More unpaid BottleRock bills as debt tops $2 millionJENNIFER HUFFMAN Napa Valley Register
July 02, 2013 5:23 pm  • 

As more BottleRock suppliers step forward with unpaid bills in hand, the known amount of money festival organizers owe to vendors now tops $2 million.

Nathan Trivers, co-owner of Up & Under Pub and Grill in Point Richmond, said that BottleRock owes him approximately $190,000 for catering services.

Trivers said that between April 28 to May 13 his business provided approximately 8,500 meals for BottleRock staff, bands, stagehands, security and others. He was supposed to be paid approximately $280,000 for the work, Trivers said, but he’s only received a total of $90,000.

Trivers said not being paid in full has severely impacted his business. “This (expletive) thing has just about bankrupted me,” he said. “I’ve had to take personal loans.”

“I’m between a rock and hard place,” he said. “I have to look out for my 33 employees and my business,” Trivers said. “I don’t want to be the whistle-blower. But when the reality of the dollars hit, I was like holy (expletive). I have a payroll due in two days and I have no money.”

In the weeks after the festival, he’s talked with Bob Vogt, festival co-founder, about getting paid, Trivers said. “To be honest, he sounded genuine that he wants to make this right. Is he a shyster? I don’t know. Something’s funny.”

When asked about pursuing legal options, he said, “I don’t have a ton of money to hire some hotshot shark lawyer.”

Trivers also questioned the role of the city of Napa in this affair. “Is that how Napa wants to be perceived? Go to Napa and get screwed? The city and the DA ... need to do something about this.”

Mike Harrison, executive vice president and CEO of Landmark Event staffing services, said that BottleRock organizers owe his business $166,000. Harrison said that between 150 and 160 Landmark Event staffers worked at the five-day music festival providing security and event staffing services. Wearing distinctive yellow jackets, most were found at the entrance and exit gates at the Napa Expo.

Harrison said his company is owed a total of $228,000. Organizers gave him one check for $125,000, which was returned for insufficient funds, Harrison said. A second payment for $62,000 cleared.

After the one check bounced, “we immediately started calling” BottleRock representatives, Harrison said. “We were assured that everything would get taken care of” by a June 14 deadline.

While he’s paid his employees, “our business is not a high-margin business,” Harrison said. “We are going to be pursuing all of our options” to get paid. “We want to get our money,” Harrison said. “We will take every legal step that’s available to us.”

The five-day music marathon, held May 8 to 13, became the largest event in Napa history, bringing tens of thousands of music lovers to the Napa Expo. Attendance was estimated to reach more than 120,000. Neighbors and downtown businesses grappled with the influx of visitors, some benefiting more than others. A number of charities were promised a total of up to $1 million in donations.

But almost two months after the festival’s conclusion, BottleRock organizers have yet to pay 142 union workers $630,000 in wages as well as a number of other vendors who worked at the five-day music event. One lawsuit has been filed for breach of contract.

In recent weeks festival organizer Vogt announced plans to recruit investors for the festival.

“We have multiple offers on the table,” said Vogt on Tuesday morning. “We’re trying to figure out which one we’re going to go with,” he said.

In addition, “We are still looking to resolve our dispute,” with Cindy Pawlcyn’s food group, CP Cooks LLC, over money collected in food and beverage sales at the festival, Vogt said.

According to Vogt, BottleRock has received no money or final accounting from CP Cooks. He said he is eager to make the promised donations to a number of charities that participated in the event. According to the original plan, $1 from every beverage sold was to be set aside for those charities.

“These charities are due their money,” which was promised by July 1, Vogt said.

Reached by phone on Tuesday morning, Pawlcyn said she would like the charities to get their money as well. She disagreed with Vogt’s claims and referred other questions to her attorney, John McClintick.

McClintick also disputed Vogt’s account. “A detailed accounting has been provided to BottleRock,” McClintick said. Instead of CP Cooks owing BottleRock money, it’s the other way around, he said.

“BottleRock organizers owe us a significant amount of money,” the attorney said. When asked to comment further on Vogt’s assertions, McClintick declined, citing a confidentiality agreement that bound him to silence.

“Bob is saying a lot of things,” he noted.

Napa city spokesperson Barry Martin said city representatives are “very aware of all that’s going on with BottleRock.”

“We’re paying attention to everything that’s being reported,” Martin said. “We understand that people are owed money. We are certainly concerned,” he said.

However, the city cannot enforce whether a business or organization pays its bills or not, he said. Any person who is owed money should contact the police department or the district attorney’s office or a private law firm, Martin said.

As far as the $106,730 that BottleRock owes the city, “We certainly hope we will see the rest of what’s owed on the 11th of July,” the date the funds were promised to be paid, Martin said.

No complete complaints about bounced checks have been filed at police department to date, Capt. Jeff Troendly said on Monday. Someone initiated a complaint about a bounced check for $10,000 owed to a catering company at BottleRock, but “the victim hasn’t provided the (complete) info so we can move forward,” he said.

Writing a check with the knowledge that there is insufficient funds in the account to cover the sum is considered a criminal act.

In a written statement, Napa County DA Gary Lieberstein said, “To date our office has not received any police reports from law enforcement requesting any criminal action” in regards to BottleRock.

“If an individual or company believes that they are the victim of a crime, such as being given a check that is not covered by sufficient funds, they would need to report their situation to their local law enforcement agency,” he said.

“Law enforcement would then investigate to determine there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed and they can prove who did it. At such time, law enforcement then forwards the case to our office where our review commences.”

“While we may speculate as to what was in the minds of the promoters at the time promises were made or checks were written, the difference between civil and criminal liability is huge as to the burden of proof required in court,” Lieberstein said.

“We are certainly available to review any requests for criminal charges submitted thereafter and to file those cases which we believe satisfy our ethical and legal criminal standards,” he wrote.

On Tuesday, a new Facebook page urged supporters of Up & Under to join a “cash mob” at the restaurant to benefit the business.

“We’ll be mobbing them with lots of people and if everyone buys a beer, the volume will add up,” wrote organizer Michaela Graham. “The more people are coming, the better.”

“If you believe in small, local businesses who make a difference to the community, then please, please come out and buy one of their specialty beers or wines.”

On Monday, Dave Navarro of the band Jane’s Addiction, which performed at BottleRock, commented on Twitter about the pub’s unpaid bill. “@BottleRockNapa What’s the latest with @up_underpub Up & Under Payment??? Can we move this along?”

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