By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
To his regret, O'Connor introduced Wergin to Weymouth, about whom he knew little other than the guy had run Coopers'town and knows a lot of famous people.
"Coopers'town was what Brian [Weymouth] brought to the table, for starters, and then he sold me on Julio and what he was worth as a name," Wergin says.
In June 2008, the trio formed an LLC registered in Arizona, JCC Campeones One. They had two projects on the table, the Mesa restaurant and an energy drink called Affordable Bebidas, both of which would feature Chavez's name.
Weymouth would be in charge of turning an old Home Depot in Mesa into a 30,000-square-foot venue. Wergin was to provide the capital — it would end up being more than $3 million — for the project. The agreement called for the LLC to repay Wergin's loan once profits rolled in.
Weymouth's contribution to the partnership was his licensing arrangement with Chavez and all of $1,000 (the same sum as O'Connor put in).
JCC Campeones and the companion energy drink company would pay royalties to Weymouth's own firm, which in turn was supposed to pay Chavez.
Weymouth signed a personal guarantee in Wergin's favor for $1.35 million in case things didn't work out, listing his Paradise Valley home as his biggest asset. It turns out that Weymouth's home is owned by a family trust and isn't a personal asset, though Wergin says he didn't know that until much later.
Campeones may have been doomed before it opened for business in November 2009.
Cost overruns totaled more than $1 million (those involved point fingers at who was to blame), the Valley's economy was collapsing, and anti-illegal-immigration sentiment was polarizing the population.
But Campeones was beautiful inside, and the venue's opening on November 10, 2009, was greeted with universal praise from patrons and the media.
Julio Cesar Chavez and Brian Weymouth stood together, arms raised as one, in the restaurant's boxing ring that night, taking in cheers from the audience.
That, perhaps, was Campeones' brightest moment.
To run Campeones day to day, Weymouth hired Jared Flowers, who tells New Times that critical problems arose within weeks.
"I came to learn that Brian was bleeding the place dry with all kinds of side deals he was making with people I had no idea about," says Flowers, who now manages a Wildflower Bread Company in Scottsdale. "Promoters would come in for an event and get all the door proceeds, money would be unaccounted for, you name it.
"Brian didn't have any idea what was going on in the day-to-day operation. He would come in every Friday or Saturday night and drink all night and tell us everything was going fine. The bar and the venue were making money, but I would try to tell him that the food was way overpriced and many other obvious issues. He'd just shine me off."
By early January 2010, just two months after the grand opening, relations between Dan Wergin and Brian Weymouth were fraying.
Wergin had returned to Arizona for the winter and was stunned to learn firsthand that his huge investment already was teetering. After looking into the problems, he says, he came to blame Weymouth.
As part of the 2008 operating agreement, Wergin could ask his other two partners for a "cash call," an infusion of capital into JCC Campeones and to Affordable Bebidas.
Wergin did just that, giving Weymouth 90 days (60 days more than was in the contract) to pony up more than $500,000. Weymouth responded by claiming the "cash call" was illegal and never put in a penny.
When the 90-day period was up, Wergin and O'Connor voted to reduce Weymouth's ownership in the LLC from 45 percent to almost nothing.
By then, on another legal front, Weymouth had filed suit against Alice Cooper and Shep Gordon, alleging breach of contract, fraud, and other civil wrongdoing, and saying he had been forced to resign because of "a pattern of misconduct." (The men soon filed their own countersuit.)
Wergin says he learned of the Cooper'stown litigation by accident and decided to compare notes with the Cooper group.
"I knew who Alice Cooper was from my old rock 'n' roll days, but I had no idea what had been going on at Coopers'town," Wergin says. "I thought it would be important to learn some more things about Brian, even though it was too late. All of us had a conference call, and that was that."
A former bookkeeper for Campeones, Tabatha Hancock — who may be Weymouth's strongest witness in his criminal and civil cases — put a different spin on that conference call.
In a February 2011 affidavit, Hancock claimed that the conversation among Wergin, O'Connor, Shep Gordon, and another person led to her resignation from Campeones.
"[They] plotted a scheme to destroy Mr. Weymouth both financially and emotionally," Hancock wrote. "I could no longer remain a silent witness, as this was a conspiracy to destroy Mr. Weymouth's family, his marriage, his income, and his future."
Hancock blamed Wergin and Jared Flowers, not Weymouth, for having "mismanaged" Campeones and Bebidas.
Late one night in early May 2010, Brian Weymouth came into the restaurant with two off-duty Mesa police officers and a locksmith.