View Full Version : Jacksonville BBQ Blast Promoter Owes Nearly $100,000

05-19-2006, 07:56 AM
Jacksonville BBQ Blast Promoter Owes Nearly $100,000


Mark Rogers

Theresa O‘Donnell

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http://www.firstcoastnews.com/images/realvideo.gif 5/18/2006 11pm report (http://www.firstcoastnews.com/video/player.aspx?aid=68056&bw=)

By Victor Blackwell (http://www.firstcoastnews.com/inside/bios/blackwell_victor.asp)
First Coast News

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- It was supposed to be the city's next big tradition. To kick it off… a world record jump on the St. Johns River by stuntman, Robbie Knievel.

But thousands were left angry. The event's organizer said it was too windy to jump.

First Coast News investigators have discovered that may not be true. But we'll get back to Knievel in a moment.

"I feel betrayed. I'm angry," said Mark Rogers, owner of Homestead-based catering company, Smoke & Spice.

Mark drove 400-miles from Homestead to compete for big money in the Jacksonville BBQ Blast.

His team placed in ribs, pork and brisket and took home the Grand Champion prize.

"We ran up and we were really excited and we grabbed the trophies and they took a few pictures of us there," said Mark.

They also picked up their money - four checks, totaling $3,400.

"Everybody was high fiving us," said Mark. "We were really excited," he added.

But the excitement did not last. All four checks bounced.

"Then days later, we found out that the same thing had happened to the rest of the teams," Mark said.

First Coast News talked to every other winning team. They confirm their checks were bad, too.

The checks were signed by Joe Johnson for his Jacksonville-based company, Johnson Productions, Inc.

He also operates the Johnson Family Flea and Farmer's Market on the Westside.

"We were promised that everything was going to be okay," said Mark's assistant Ingrid Camelo.

Ingrid says she received an email from Johnson Productions, Inc. stating: "…you will have the award money you earned no later than Wednesday April 18, 2006."

They say they still haven't been paid.

And First Coast News has obtained invoices that show Johnson Productions, Inc. owes the people of Jacksonville, too.

The City says he owes more than $14,000 for the rental of Metro Park and support workers.

Theresa O'Donnell with the City's Office of Special Events says the company's president, Joe Johnson, stopped returning their calls weeks ago.

"We set that meeting with him, to come back in on Monday - to do the final walk through to see what needs to be paid and work through that," said O'Donnell. "A month later is not acceptable," she added.

Remember Robbie Knievel. Organizers of the festival said his jump was postponed because of the wind. Well Knievel tells First Coast News: "He didn't have my money the first day. It was never about the weather."

Knievel says he was paid most of his money, but he says he is still owed a quarter of the jump fee.

He's just one of a list people waiting for money.

The company that rented the barges Knievel jumped says it still hasn't been paid. The ice company hasn't been paid, either.

And add their totals to the City and the barbecue teams' total and Johnson Productions, Inc. owes nearly $100,000.

"I would leave him voice mails, I never got a call back, though," said Ingrid.

So, we searched for Joe Johnson. Our first stop was at the Johnson Family Flea and Farmer's Market.

We eventually got him on the phone.

"I haven't received no messages, whatsoever, from nobody," said Johnson. "I take full responsibility for everything and everybody will be paid," he added. Johnson insists he is not hiding.

Johnson agreed to meet with us. However, he didn't show. Instead, he called to reschedule. He canceled our second scheduled interview, an hour later.

Although Knievel landed his jump and set a new world record and Mark and Ingrid scorched their competition, Jacksonville's next big tradition may have gone up in smoke.

The City is working through the Office of the General Counsel to get its money. The barbecue teams and at least one company plans to sue Johnson Productions, Inc.

05-19-2006, 08:04 AM
That really sucks! It'll be a cold day in hell before that community is open to the idea of having another BBQ contest after getting burned like that.

05-19-2006, 09:03 AM
Here in FL, the threshold for FELONY bad checks is $1000. Suing this A-hole is gonna do little.
A visit by the Sheriff with a felony arrest warrant will adjust his attitude in a heartbeat. That is automatic cuffs, free ride in cop car, booking into jail, and spending quality time with other law-breakers while you await first appearance in a day or two with a Judge to set bail.
I know one Sherrif that serves the most "irritating" felony warrants on Fri evening :lol:

And the process to file charges with the State AG is really simple. I had to do it last fall and it is well worth the time.

What a shame for the sport, city, and everyone involved.


05-19-2006, 09:30 AM
I guess this event wasn't KCBS sanctioned. Sanctioning requires the prize money up front.

05-19-2006, 12:33 PM
It was an FBA contest, but neither they nor KCBS require the money up front.