HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — A Houston lounge owner is in the middle of a $73,000 rent dispute with her landlord.
When the landlord showed up at the Amahle Bar and Lounge on Friday, he saw that the padlock that had been placed on the door had been removed.
He confronted the lounge’s owner, LaDonna Wiggins, and then called the police, hoping that officers would force the lounge to close.
However, lounge staff were determined to open Friday night despite locks on doors and notices posted.
“I don’t think anyone can think smart and break into a building and enter,” said Ayman Jarah, the landlord. “We have a ‘no trespassing’ sign. And we expect the cops to be here and we want them to leave.”
He said Wiggins hasn’t paid rent for two and a half months, but she denies that claim.
“We’ve already paid you,” Wiggins told him.
“When did you pay me?” asked Jarah.
“Please. You want to see it? We’ve already paid you, and besides, this is a letter from our lawyer allowing us to be here,” she said.
Wiggins was charged with bank fraud last year for allegedly misusing $3.6 million in government funds she received through the Paycheck Protection Program. PPP was a COVID-era program designed to help business owners keep paying their employees.
SEE MORE: Houston woman accused of buying homes, Land Rover and Chanel items in alleged $3.7million PPP scam
According to investigators, Wiggins instead spent the money on homes, luxury vehicles, and expensive shopping sprees. This case is still working its way through the courts.
In fact, just last month a judge denied a motion by Wiggins’ attorneys to dismiss the case.
ABC13 stopped by the lounge after a viewer received a tip that the owner was behind on the rent. We saw the padlocks while the restaurant continued to sell tickets to a block party it’s hosting on Saturday.
Jarah and Wiggins never got along. Wiggins told ABC13 that Jarah lied about not getting paid.
The police showed up and told Jarah that he did not have the authority to close the restaurant and that he would have to answer in court.
Jarah says he will do whatever it takes to prevent Saturday’s block party.
“We’ll weld it tomorrow. Bring the welder and weld any case,” he said.
A Wiggins representative says there is evidence her rent has been paid. ABC13 asked to see these documents but has not yet received a response.
ALSO SEE: A man who stole $1.6 million in CARES Act funds for a lavish spending spree is sentenced to 9 years in prison
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https://abc13.com/amahle-bar-and-lounge-houston-unpaid-rent-ladonna-wiggins-ppp-fraud/12121207/ Houston Midtown bar owner LaDonna Wiggins was locked out of the Amahle Lounge for $73,000 in unpaid rent; also accused of PPP loan fraud