Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Court rules Patrick Kelly must pay $100,000 for pocketing employee's child support payments

Hinds County Chancellor Denise Sweet Owens hit Patrick Kelly for $100,000 in punitive damages for taking an employee's wages that were garnished for child support.  Mr. Kelly is the owner of the defunct Mint and Julep's restaurants.  The nutshell version is that Mr. Kelly kept most of the garnishment for himself and only sent a pittance to the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Charles Wiggins was a convicted felon and was on probation from 2010 to 2015.  The terms of his probation decreed that he work and "support his dependents."   He had to pay monthly child support of $433.  He worked at Mint from 2013 to 2015.  MDHS sent a garnishment order to Mr. Kelly.  Unfortunately for Mr. Wiggins, his employer took his money out of his paycheck but then kept most of the money. 

Mr. Kelly withheld $12,961 from his employee's wages for child support from 2013 to 2015 but  only sent $2,046 to MDHS.  The rest of the money went into Mr. Kelly's pocket.* Mr. Wiggins asked Mr. Kelly several times in 2015 to send the payments to MDHS. Mr. Kelly told him he would speak to his secretary but the money was never sent to MDHS.



Mint filed for bankruptcy on April 10, 2015. Earlier post. However, he did not include Mr. Wiggins as a creditor but did list him as one in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy he filed in 2016.

Mr. Kelly argued that he never took possession of the money but that argument did not hold water with Chancellor Owens.  He also claimed that he was protected from any liability due to the corporate veil.  However, the court ruled that it did not need to worry about piercing the corporate veil since he admitted to the debt in his chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.  He thus waived his corporate veil defense by claiming it as a personal debt.

However, now the really disgusting part begins.  The order states:

However, the Plaintiff inquired on his own volition about the status of his child support payments for tax purposes in December 2014. MDHS informed the Plaintiff that he was behind in child support for approximately $10,000. The Plaintiff testified that he was very surprised to know that he was behind because the funds were being withheld from his paycheck every other week.

Subsequently, the Plaintiff learned that the Defendants Kelly and Mint Restaurant continuously withheld money from the Plaintiff's wages and only remitted $2,046.78 to the Defendant,  MDHS. Shortly thereafter, the Plaintiff took an accounting of his wages to MDHS to prove that the funds were actually being withheld from his wages. Testimony revealed that MDHS called Mint Restaurant to verify the Plaintiff's claims and his claims were substantiated when restaurant personnel informed MDHS that Mint Restaurant did withhold child support payments from the Plaintiff's wages during the time in question.
On September 24, 2015, the Plaintiff paid $516.00 through his unemployment back pay to MDHS toward his child support. Therefore, Defendants Mint Restaurant and Patrick Kelly owe Defendant MDHS and/or Defendant Latoya Lindsey $10,914.22....

 The court then moves on to one Patrick Kelly and his actions:

The record reflects that the Defendant, Mint Restaurant gained control of the funds in a legal manner. They gained control of the funds via this Court's Withholding Order. However, the defendant converted the funds when they did not remit them to MDHS.....

The Plaintiff testified that this unpaid debt caused him to have panic attacks because he is a convicted felon. He was sentenced to fifteen (15) years of incarceration. Ten (10) years were suspended and five (5) years are to be served through supervised probation. He is currently on  supervised probation. During the term of his supervised probation, he is required to work faithfully at suitable employment and support all dependents as required by law thereby making timely child support payments. If he failed to comply with the terms, he may be required to serve the suspended portion of his sentence. Therefore, the Plaintiff revealed that he worries daily about the possibility of going back to  jail. ....

Because of Defendant's breach of duty, the Plaintiff was in contempt for not paying child support, subjected to being in violation of Miss Code Ann Section 9-5-3, a felony punishable by up to $10,000.00, and 2-5 years imprisonment; suspension of the Plaintiff's driver's license, professional, occupational or any state- issued license; interception of federal and/or state tax refunds and unemployment checks, and; reporting arrearage to credit bureaus which would include the same on Plaintiff's credit report.
Also the Plaintiff was in contempt for violating the terms of his supervised probation by not supporting all his dependents as required by law, which in this case, the court ordered child support. This heightened the probability of the Plaintiff's incarceration. As such, this Court finds the Defendant Mint Restaurant's actions were grossly negligent and evidenced a willful, wanton and/or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of the Plaintiff and others.
Judge Owens ruled that Mr. Kelly's conduct was so egregious that it deserved punitive damages.  She awarded punitive damages of $100,000 and attorney's fees to Mr. Wiggins. Mr. Kelly was represented by attorney James Scarff.

Kingfish note: Judge Owens don't play.  Mr. Kelly qualifies for scumbag of the day.

*The order states that Mint withheld $4,486 in 2013 but only sent $1,241 to MDHS. Mr. Kelly thus pocketed $3,245.  The conversion continued in 2014.  Mint withheld $6,480 from Mr. Wiggin's wages but only sent $805 to MDHS- a difference of $5,674.  Mr. Wiggins was garnished for $1,994 in 2015 but Mr. Kelly sent none of those funds to MDHS.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHOA!!!!! I ALWAYS WONDERED WHY THEY CLOSED DOWN!? OMG

Anonymous said...

Oy. That is not a pair of shoes you want to be standing in before a chancellor.

Anonymous said...

Could someone let the illustrious dumbass Hinds DA know that THIS is a white boy worth pursuing and throwing in jail?

Anonymous said...

Scum.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is the Ben Allen RSS meant to prosecute?

Anonymous said...

Patrick Kelly must have plenty of money. He took his kids to a concert in Houston, TX over the weekend. See Facebook. He needs to serve time for this.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what happened to Patrick. He was a fun guy. He had a beautiful family, successful businesses...Things started spiraling and he kept getting deeper and deeper. I felt sorry for him. People were giving him chances because they knew him, and he took advantage of them. Then all of his lies started to unravel. I guess he was desperate enough for cash that he risked putting his poor employee through all of this. For Mr. Wiggins' sake, I'm glad the truth came out and hope that he can get his life back on track. I also hope Patrick gets some help and finally faces his truths.

Anonymous said...

So he's got Danny's lawyer representing him, too. Guess he didn't learn that much from Jeff after all.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what happened to Patrick. He was a fun guy. He had a beautiful family, successful businesses...Things started spiraling and he kept getting deeper and deeper.

I wouldn't know the man if I saw him on the street. But the restaurant business lends itself to drug use. It's just a fact. I'm not making an accusation, but if one wonders how things "spiral" and get "deeper and deeper" and money starts getting pilfered...

Occam's Razor.

Anonymous said...

I just looked-up his picture. Are those artfully-plucked eyebrows I see on him, in his photos?

Something about waxed/plucked/arched eyebrows, just sets off alarms, for me - particularly when they're on guys.

Anonymous said...

Someone who is an attorney explain to is why he did not go to jail?
If he went to his employees house and stole the money he would go to jail.
What is the difference? You cannot claim 'bookkeeping error' for something that happened every month for two years.

Anonymous said...

HOw did Kelley avoid facing felony charges?

No blood in a turnip said...

Good luck collecting on that!

Anonymous said...

Why was none of the penalty awarded to the dependent children who had to get along without benefit of payments from their father? I sympathize with Mr. Williams and surely he has been wronged. But if the ruling is that money was stolen from him by his employer, why doesn't it logically follow that it was actually stolen from the people to whom it was owed - his kids?

Anonymous said...

I'm an attorney and I have no idea why stealing from children is not criminally actionable.

Anonymous said...

I know him personally. There has not been a moment in all this that I have seen a sign of remorse. He deserves prison. He is the worst of the worst!!

Anonymous said...

Mint is in madison, not Hinds

Anonymous said...

Great example of why "Trickle Down" economics sucks....Anyone that thinks this is an atypical employer has not had many jobs. Hard working folks get the shaft 9 outta 10 times. Remember mandatory car insurance? It sure did not lower anybody's insurance. Every aspect of business is slanted away from the "little guy". If people were just honest and honorable, there would not be a need for "big" government.

Anonymous said...

Owning a business is not for the faint of heart. Managing 50-100 employees and bailing some out of jail and treating them like family isn't the norm. He's obviously made some mistakes here, but to imply he intentionally screwed one of his guys over is a far cry from what I would bet happened. Obviously there were some financial hardships but the guy is not trying to screw anyone out of money. Sounds like he got some bad advice and it's the sort of thing that a good CPA should have cleaned up, years ago. It's not like he needed this 12k to go to Vegas. I feel for him, and he wasn't in business alone, either.

Anonymous said...

Funny how stones are being cast without the whole story. Especially business owners who know how stories get spun. SHAME on those casting judgement when all facts are not presented. FIRST- are you a business owner? SECOND- when a ship sinks for whatever reason the rats try come out on top. THIRD- if you knew this man you'd be praying for him because of his loss and the loss of an amazing establishment-and wish him The best because he will be back and ....the naysayers will be eating crow...now remember, THIS MAN can make even crow taste delicious!

Anonymous said...

9:02 that might fly...except his biz was sued for garnishment and Kelly has to answer that suit AND decide to withhold money....

Kelly withheld funds....but didn't pay them to the garnishor...and the designated money was then kept and spent by Kelly.

Pathetic human...

StarRider said...

He held money out of the guy's check for child support, then kept most of the money for himself. Yeeaahh I believe I've heard all I need to hear, he's lucky he didn't do some jail time. It always pays to be honest.

Anonymous said...

I always got the impression the poor guy did whatever his wife Mary told him to do. Where is she in all this?

Sauteed Crow Indeed! said...

I'm lost trying to grasp the link between this theft and the illustration of mandatory car insurance.

Clearly he thought this would work sort of like a family's bill for dental visits. You get a bill for the total, pay a little or nothing at all, and next month you get another bill and pay a little or nothing at all, and next month...

He thought he could withhold the total amount from the employee's checks (then spend it) and the state would continue to bill him each month and he'd pay a little more here and there. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way with child support garnishments.

Small time restaurant owners, like this, often get caught not paying into the FICA system, monkeying with insurance payments and even dipping into the employee shared-tip pool.

And to hell with suggestions of pity, prayers for the guilty, misplaced judgment and rats abandoning ship.

Anonymous said...

@5:50am. That's just how liberals think. To them, one bad restaurant owner is proof positive that every person who owns or runs a business is a crook out to shaft the little guy.

If one apple is found to have a razor inserted, every apple on the planet is a potential razor blade concealment device and Big Fruit is spending millions of dollars they stole from the apple pickers to cover up this. Also, the government needs to start regulating razor blade manufacturers, forcing them to remove the danger from their product...because of the children.

This guy did this because he's a crook. That's where this story ends. Only a numbskull liberal who thinks everything is Ronald Reagan's fault could tie a local restaurateur's thievery to mandatory auto insurance rates.

Anonymous said...

11:53-- She divorced PK and is now engaged to a CEO.

Anonymous said...

It's not loyalty to a friend to excuse or condone their bad behavior. That's enabling.
9:02 pm makes business owners look stupid as it was easy to garnish wages long before the computer age and simpler now. Who hired the bookkeeper and the CPA? And, what is the owner's " job" if not to make sure those he hires are doing a good job?
That 10:05 pm goes further and suggest all small business owners are easily overwhelmed and unable to deal with such a simple thing as garnished wages in his friend's defense is offensive to all of us who do the right thing by our employees and run a tight ship.

Anonymous said...

this case was a civil action, not a criminal prosecution. if Mint was in Madison County, I'm pretty sure DA Guest will soon be announcing embezzlement charges...

Anonymous said...

this is criminal. sorry to those who think he's a good guy--hes worth about as much as the next thug that holds up a gas station. throw him in prison till he pays. a few posts down there's a picture of the yazoo jail and some thugs there. see how long he would last in one of those cells. i'm sure the guys there would treat him 'really nice'

Anonymous said...

I'm friends with Attorney that represented Wiggins. She went to Hinds County DA at the start of this case in 2015. They told her to try Madison because they are harder on crime. She went to Madison DA office for a meeting and they did not pursue it either. She literally chased PK through bankruptcy courts and unemployment appeal for Wiggins. May be now she has enough ammo for the DA office

Anonymous said...

This isn't a case of an an inadvertent error causing a mix-up.

In these cases, once the funds are withheld from an employee's check, a separate check is issued to the State of Mississippi corresponding to that week's child support request.

Not mailing in that check, and instead depositing into a general business account, is either a CPA error - clearly not the case as the CPA confirmed that the funds were withheld appropriately - or gross malfeasance (ie intentional theft) on the part of the employer.

Lots of great business owners in this world. This guy isn't one of them.

Anon said...

Wow. Oh how the "innocent" fall. This was really dirty. Taking an employee's child support payments out of his check and pocketing the majority of it for yourself. That's really low. Being under child support is already no picnic and yep, it's a self-induced problem, but wow, how pathetic.

Anonymous said...

My point is whether it is a situation like this, or any situation between average Joe and employer(big or small), the little guy gets the shaft. Even when fault is determined, the little guy often is not made whole. For example, we have a President who used bankruptcy as part of his business plan. Why would the little guy have confidence that any of his plans would have their best interests in mind? So, it puts things into perspective how workers need protections in a system that is not geared toward their well being.

They put people in jail for not paying child support. This employer was doing the same as a dead beat Dad and should be treated the same.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

@ March 7, 2017 at 4:34 PM

It is a sub-culture within the restaurant industry - between cooks, waiters, waitresses, and bartenders - the adrenaline rushes on certain shifts, your making cash, you get off go meet up at another restaurant, bar hoping, strip clubs, one thing leads to another.

I remember those days well! I totally know where you are coming from

Anonymous said...

@10:04 - A business owner's motivation and responsibility is to create a profit for himself. It is NOT to "serve the best interests of the little guy". Sorry...but, that's just the way it IS...and that's the way it MUST be. As long as that business generates a profit, there will be A JOB for "the little guy". On the other hand, if no profit is earned, the business will cease to be and "the little guy" will be out of a job. Further, no business owner, INCLUDING the POTUS has EVER made bankruptcy a "part of his business plan". That's like saying his PLAN is to become bankrupt. That's just a stupid idea. As for a business that takes advantage of bankruptcy law, that business has absolutely "served the best interests of its "little men" by insuring that that business can continue to operate and thereby, continue to provide employment to those "little men". And, as respects the POTUS, instead of investing his personal wealth in various businesses that, literally, employ 10s of 1000s of people, he could just sit in his counting room and count his money. That way he would never have to resort to using the bankruptcy laws to help salvage a small portion of his investment if the venture fails to generate sufficient revenue to pay cover its cost of operating. (Why do we keep having to educate liberals, over and over and over again on this subject??? It really is NOT that hard to understand.)

Anonymous said...

Mint WAS in Madison County.

PittPanther said...

Screw Kelly, he deserves no sympathy.

I only hope the felon, who was trying to do the right thing, doesn't get screwed by "Mississippi Justice" and thrown back in jail for not paying his child support.

Unfortunately we know that money will never be seen again. Ultimate loser in all this? The mother and child, as usual.

Oh, I Meant To Send That Money.. said...

Having worked in HR for many years I can you for certain that a court ordered garnishment for child support (or any other debt) is served on an employer and is specific as to the amount to be withheld each pay period and the location to which that amount must be sent.

It's not as if the court sent a note asking the accounting department to see about holding out some money and sending a little each pay period to help with the children's expenses.

It is a crime to ignore, alter, substitute judgment or delay the court ordered withholding ordered by a garnishment.

Anonymous said...

Patrick was a great guy and it has been sad to see what has become of him. There was so much potential. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that Patrick knew exactly what was going on. He is extremely smart. I cannot imagine that the plaintiff will ever see any of this money, but maybe Patrick will get the help he needs and for once acknowledge his mistakes instead of trying to charm his way out of another hole. The consequences are getting more serious. He has gone beyond just not paying his debts. The plaintiff was obviously trying to do right by his child/children and turn his life back around only to have his employer steal from him.

Anonymous said...

What does it mean to 'get the help he needs'. You don't steal money because you're ill or in need of psychiatric care or because you 'need help'. You steal because you figure you can use the money and you won't get caught. Not sure what 'help' can reverse that concept.

Anonymous said...

6:51 Amen. I would question the decision-making capacity of anyone who believes the following: "It was a mistake." "(Blank) is a great guy/gal." "He/She has great potential." "I enjoy their company."

All of us know people who fit one or more of these categories. That doesn't mean we should "trust" them in a fiduciary capacity or to do the right thing. That same mentality has kept Mississippi at a ranking of 50 forever. For reference, see our state government and how it is run.

Anonymous said...

Yep a lot of you sound like the mother who says, "my baby a good boy, he ain't done nothin....."

Anonymous said...

To quote Wall Street: "The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don’t want to do."

Good case in point here.

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