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Police: Tax debt, lawsuit may have led

Observer writer

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

NEW YORK, United States — Police investigating Saturday's suicide by founder and chief executive officer of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, Lowell Hawthorne, say a mounting tax debt and a lawsuit by a former employee may have led to the popular businessman taking his life.

While no specific amount has been mentioned, there were unconfirmed reports the company was “deep in tax debt”, and that Hawthorne feared that he was being investigated by authorities. He was also said to be “worried about possible liens being placed on some of the company's assets”.

New reports here yesterday by the American media said the lawsuit by the former employee was over a claim that he was owed thousands of dollars for overtime work during more than 10 years he worked for the company.

The lawsuit, which was filed in May this year, also alleged that other Golden Krust staff members were owed money for overtime work.

The Jamaica Observer was unable to get a comment from the company's management. A source said the management and other employees remained in a state of shock and were mourning the untimely death of their boss.

Meanwhile, the company reopened for regular business yesterday after workers were provided grief counselling.

Local politicians also reacted to Hawthorne's death. In a tweet Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “We are shocked and saddened by the death of Lowell Hawthorne. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

New York city council member Daneek Miller, in a statement, said it was hard to conceive that “Lowell Hawthorne, the baker's son from the hilltop community of Border, is now gone from us.”

And US Congresswoman Yvette Clarke said: “The legacy of Lowell Hawthorne will live on.” She hailed Hawthorne for “bringing his love for Jamaican culture on a larger scale through food and fellowship”.