HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- It's been nearly a year since members say they enjoyed a meal or even set foot inside the now-shuttered Heritage Club in the Bridge Street Town Centre, but now we are learning more about what led to the club's demise.
The latest developments in the situation surrounding the closing of the Heritage Club come one day after WHNT News 19 was the first station to alert you several tenants at Bridge Street, including The Heritage Club, owed taxes.
The members-only club originally established in downtown Huntsville nearly 30 years ago moved to a new location in Bridge Street in 2011. Members say they've made several attempts to contact management following the club's closure in 2012, but their calls and emails have not been answered.
According to internal memos provided to WHNT News 19, when the club was in operation there were nearly 800 members. Some of those members paid thousands of dollars for a "lifetime" membership only to find themselves without the money or a club to attend.
According to members who did not want to be identified in this report, internal struggles between managers boiled over about a month before the club was shut down.
WHNT News 19 uncovered a lawsuit filed in Madison County Circuit Court. Attorneys are scheduled to be back in the courtroom Thursday morning to work on this case.
READ COMPLAINT HERE: Complete Court Documents
Gary Wolfe, attorney for the club's fired general manager and chief operating officer Richard Salazar and The Heritage Club issued this statement regarding the lawsuit:
"The Heritage Club and Richard Salazar have filed a complaint in Madison County Circuit Courts naming Augustus Tucker as the defendant. The Private Club, LLC owned all stock in The Heritage Club. Over a period of two years a small portion of those shares were sold to three individuals including Augustus Tucker. After that, there were some disputed transactions whereby Mr. Tucker claimed a transfer of the shares controlled by Mr. Salazar. Following this disputed transfer, Mr. Tucker issued a letter, as a purported Director of the Heritage Club, terminating Mr. Salazar. Mr. Tucker then took control of the club. Following Mr. Salazar's termination the Club ceased operations. Mr. Salazar disputes his authority to do this and filed the instant lawsuit to correct what he perceives to be an injustice."
Kimberly A. Ford, attorney for Augustus Tucker and The Heritage Club, sent WHNT News 19 this statement Wednesday morning.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Wolfe chose to utter such misleading statements regarding this pending litigation. Mr. Wolfe has been presented with the facts of this case, yet he and his client, Mr. Richard Salazar, continue to distort the truth. Mr. Salazar's claims are unsubstantiated. The truth is that Mr. Salazar ultimately transferred Private Club, LLC's controlling interest in The Heritage Club, Inc. because he was unable to secure financing for the Club's construction at Bridge Street due to his personal financial situation. Furthermore, prior to this transfer, Mr. Salazar had already begun to fail in the performance of his duties to the Club as General Manager and COO. A prime example, as recently reported by WHNT 19, is that The Heritage Club owes back taxes - this issue is only a mere snippet of the myriad of problems directly connected to Mr. Salazar that have been uncovered as this case has progressed. The bottom line and ultimate truth is that Mr. Tucker is trying to save The Heritage Club."