Troubling times for Rapids Theatre 

The Rapids Theatre at 1711 Main St. appears to be operating as normal despite financial issues surrounding owner John Hutchins.  

Lawyers for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York and the chief financial officer of the company that controls the Rapids Theatre have agreed to extend, for 30 days, the seizure of more than $403,000 from a personal checking account of the CFO and a checking account of a business he controls.

An attorney for Roberto M. Soliman confirmed that the U.S. Attorney’s office has been given until Nov. 18 to file a verified complaint for the forfeiture of $1,796.35 from Soliman’s personal checking account and $402,302.04 from the business checking account of CWE Entertainment Corp, a company Soliman reportedly controls.

Soliman is the chief financial officer of 1711 Main LLC, the holding company that operates the Rapids Theatre.

The money was impounded in May and this will be the third extension that federal prosecutors have been given to explain their reasons for attempting to take the cash from Soliman and his company. There are currently no filings in the federal court clerk’s office that explain the reasons for the seizures. 

Soliman’s attorney, Rodney Personius, told the Gazette he could not comment on the matter.

“I’m not in a position to talk about it,” he said Tuesday.

Rapids Theatre owner John Hutchins is believed to be the subject of a two-pronged investigation by federal law enforcement agencies involving both civil complaints and possible criminal charges.

A spokesperson for the local office of the FBI in Buffalo had no comment on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York previously told the Gazette, “We do not confirm or deny investigations.”

That spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request on Tuesday for comment on the extension of time to file the forfeiture motion.

Signs that Hutchins, and his business ventures, might be experiencing financial distress first began emerging in April, when NFC Development Corp., the Niagara Falls city agency that oversees small business development loans and grants, terminated a $100,000 NFC Commercial Assistance grant and a $150,000 NFC direct loan for a Hutchins project that proposed renovating a dilapidated former Main Street jewelry store and turning it and open a pub and grill.

The project carried a total price tag of $1.9 million and was hailed, at the time, by a Falls economic development official as “one of the largest private sector investments we’ve seen” on North Main Street in decades.”

The city pulled out of the project, four years later, over what Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said was a combination of factors.

“There were some documents that John’s company just never filed,” the mayor said.”(And) there were credit concerns.”

The money that had been allocated for Hutchins’ project was never actually been paid out to him.

Recently, the Rapids has appeared to be operating normally.

A concert by blues guitarist Coco Montoya went on as scheduled on Oct. 8. Both the performer and the concert promoter said they were paid in full for the event.

Trending Video

Recommended for you