Former Corky's barbecue owner faces theft charges

A Fayette County grand jury has indicted John Anthony "Jack" Kirn, former operator of two Corky's barbecue restaurants in Lexington, on theft charges stemming from money he allegedly owes the state of Kentucky.

The indictment is the latest in a series of legal troubles for Kirn.

Kirn, indicted Tuesday, is charged with one count of felony theft by deception and two counts of felony theft by failure to make required disposition of property.

According to the indictment, Kirn knowingly wrote a cold check for $6,904.37 to the Kentucky Department of Revenue on or about Nov. 20, 2009. The indictment also accuses him of failing to remit to the state $73,261.59 in sales and use taxes he collected from August 2007 to February 2010, and $11,914.36 in withholding taxes he collected during the same time period.

Kirn is to be arraigned Feb. 18 in Fayette Circuit Court. He could not be reached for comment.

Kirn, who ran Corky's restaurants on Tiverton Way and Sir Barton Way, was sued three times in Fayette Circuit Court in 2010 over money he allegedly owed. The restaurants, which opened for business in the early 2000s, have been closed for some time.

In June, the Jackson, Tenn.-based Corky's LLC sued Kirn and Swine Dining LLC, under which the Lexington Corky's franchises operated, claiming they had not paid royalties totaling $77,601 for using the Corky's brand. Corky's LLC also claimed Kirn and Swine Dining did not submit periodic reports and financial statements, as required under a contract. Corky's LLC asked the court for a permanent injunction prohibiting Kirn and Swine Dining from operating restaurants using the Corky's brand.

Kirn, in a response he filed himself, denied Corky's LLC's claims and maintained that the franchisor committed the first material breach of contract and breached its obligation of good faith and fair dealing. Kirn asked that the lawsuit be dismissed or held in abeyance so the two sides could submit their claims to an arbitrator, which, he said, was required under the contract.

In August, Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark ruled against Kirn and Swine Dining, and said Kirn's response to the lawsuit constituted unauthorized practice of law and should be stricken from the record.

Mark Rubin, manager of Tiverton Shopping Center, said Wednesday it was his understanding that Kirn owed his franchisor money and it canceled his franchise.

"Basically that canceled his occupancy (at Tiverton Way)," he said.

Rubin said before that, "for the most part," Kirn paid his rent on time.

Rubin said Kirn seemed like a nice guy.

"He was always nice to us," he said.

In September, Sysco/Louisville Food Services Co. sued Kirn, his wife, Lee Anne Kirn and Swine Dining LLC, doing business as Corky's BBQ, seeking to recover $66,354.65 for goods, merchandise and/or services it maintained it was owed. Court records indicate the matter has not been resolved.

In August, U.S. Bank, National Association, sued Kirn, his wife, Lee Anne Kirn, and three other couples — Ronald and Melissa Kirn of Fort Wright, James A. and Stacey L. Richardson of Lexington, and Charles and Amy Weirich of Memphis — for $17,503.97, which the bank said was owed to its predecessor, Firstar Bank, N.A.

The bank also asked for interest, attorneys' fees and other costs. The $17,503.97, according to U.S. Bank, was the remaining balance on a $525,000 loan given to Swine Dining in 2001.

Ronald and Melissa Kirn, the Richardsons and the Weirichs have been dismissed from the suit. Court records indicate no resolution in the battle between the Kirns and the bank.