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Local Restaurateur Serving Time For Fraud Accused of Fraud

By Chuck Sudo on Jan 8, 2008 2:30PM

2008_01_hawkins.jpgIn November we took a look at La-Van Hawkins, a Chicago-born restaurateur who made a fortune in fast food franchises. Hawkins was planning on opening a slew of Nancy's Pizza and Al's Italian Beef franchises on the South Side even as he was waiting to be sentenced to 33 months in prison on corruption charges.

We should have known something was fishy in DenmarkStony Island. Hawkins' plans took a hit when he recently closed seven Al's franchises as he was reporting to a federal prison in Duluth, Minnesota to serve his sentence. Last month, Hawkins and his business partners were also hit with a lawsuit from Chicago Beef Inc. The parent company of Al's and Nancy's claims that Hawkins "intentionally submitted falsified statements ... that misstated his overall net worth" in order to receive franchise agreements. The lawsuit also accuses Hawkins of owing them royalties and ad fees, stiffing employees on their paychecks, failing to pay vendors, and leaving other franchisees holding his unpaid bills.

We'd like to say that this is a case of "fool me once, shame on you, fool me ... we can't get fooled again." But we'll place even money that someone will want to do business with this man once he's released from prison.