Though Manassas club owner Reginald E. “Reggie” Wood Jr. lost the lease on the old Manassas Presbyterian Church building he was using for his Northern Virginia Professionals Club this spring, eviction may be the least of Wood’s worries.
Among the 200 criminal indictments handed up by the Grand Jury in July was a bad check charge against Wood. Wood is also being sued by former investors in another Manassas jazz club, CO2 Jazz Inc.
“I was trying to bring something to Manassas that Manassas needs. I didn’t get the support from the community, and I couldn’t survive,” Wood said in a phone interview Friday.
The owner of the Northern Virginia Professionals Club building, JAT Industries of Manassas, successfully took Wood’s corporation, R. Wood Enterprises, to court for nonpayment of the lease. A General District Court judge certified in June that Wood owed JAT $36,758 plus 9 percent interest from May.
“The landlord is the problem,” Wood said. He described a city sewage flood in the church building that closed him down, and endless snows in the winter that damaged business when he needed it most. “I tried to work with the landlord. He wasn’t reasonable. … I spent over $140,000 in [building improvements].”
Wood said the landlord was unreasonable with the last three tenants, part of the reason their businesses also failed. He claimed that the landlord is also suing the previous tenant.
A $700 check Wood paid to JFEC air conditioning and plumbing for heating work at the Northern Virginia Professionals’ Club in March was returned due to insufficient funds, Sandra Poindexter of JFEC said.
“We’d done some work over there and we got the shaft,” Poindexter said. “The small claims court granted us judgment, but I haven’t been able to pursue it yet.”
The small claims court certified that Wood owed JFEC $1,577.99 plus 9 percent interest until paid. Poindexter has yet to see any payments. Wood says the landlord, JAT Industries, was supposed to pay that bill because the air conditioning didn’t work when he moved into the building.
“All I know is I want my money and I’m going to have to jump through hoops to get it,” Poindexter said. “I don’t think the law helps out a whole lot in these types of situations.”
The courts only certify that money is or isn’t owed. They do not enforce payment in these situations. Once a judgment amount is entered, it’s up to the landlord to use collection agencies or garnishments to retrieve the money.
But the Northern Virginia Professionals Club isn’t the first of Wood’s business to go under. Three of Wood’s former investors in another club, CO2 Jazz Inc., entered motions for judgment against Woods in Prince William Circuit court at the end of May. That club closed in October 2001, without notification to the other investors, they claim. According to court documents, plaintiffs’ investment in CO2 Jazz ranged from $5,000 to $30,000.
“I took on people who were somewhat investors, there were some struggles, and I couldn’t make it,” Wood said. “There were some tie-ups with the [liquor] license. We’d put a lot of money in, but without … the license nobody came in. … The investors didn’t understand. It ended up blowing under. I tried to pay people as best as I could.”
But one of the investors, Joseph Harris, said the investors discovered the application for the liquor license had never been turned in. Wood never applied for the license, Harris said.
“We didn’t pull out until after we found out he’d used our money to pay his personal debts,” Harris said in a phone interview Friday.
Each of the plaintiffs, entering individual lawsuits drafted by Burke attorney John Bell, seeks $500,000 in damages from Wood, his attorney William A. Boge, Boge’s law firm, Scanlon Law Firm and CO2 Jazz Inc. itself.
“We’re just trying to save someone else from losing money to Mr. Wood,” Harris said. “It’s a lesson learned. But, if we can save someone else …”
The former partners’ lawsuits claim that “Wood and his wife, Angela Wood, diverted and illegally converted funds to the economic detriment of the plaintiff and other investors in CO2 for their personal gain; … failed to pay lease requirements, salaries or taxes; refused to give requested financial and banking information about the operation … set up accounts in various financial institutions to which they diverted and converted funds from the plaintiff and other investors in CO2 …”
Harris said the group doesn’t really expect to recover anything from Wood, but hopes instead to recover from Boge, who they believe to have been practicing in violation of federal trade commission guidelines when he drafted business documents and shares in the club for Wood.
Wood was previously prosecuted for uttering in 2001, when a Manassas food supplier claimed a $1,797.45 check Wood wrote him bounced. The trial was declared a mistrial. Wood was not convicted of the charge.
In August, he will stand before another jury on a bad check charge. A Capitol Hills, Md., furniture rental company claims that a $6,522.74 check Wood wrote to CORT Furniture in December 2002 bounced.
“CORT Furniture basically screwed me,” said Wood.
He said that CORT sent the wrong shipment to NVPC, which was larger and more expensive than his actual order. He accepted because he needed furniture for his sneak preview a few days away, and then tried to return the furniture.
“It’s all based on bad luck. I never tried to screw anyone. I’m trying to put myself in a position where I can pay everyone back,” Wood said. “I have a lot of dreams and aspirations and good intentions.”