Earlier today, I put up a post concerning Megan Lucas, the woman at the center of a lawsuit filed by Phil Romano and others against their Hofmann Hots business partner Frank Zaccanelli. The suit alleges that Lucas is Zaccanelli’s girlfriend and that he improperly funneled company funds to her. I spent some time with Lucas on the phone after she read that post. She tells a different story about the lawsuit.
First, though, about that mugshot: Lucas says she got a ticket in Highland Park for throwing a cigarette butt out a window. When she didn’t pay that ticket, she was arrested.
Now the lawsuit. In short, Lucas says it’s all bunk, that Romano et al. were trying to use Lucas to squeeze Zaccanelli out of the business. She says that she met Zacanelli while working as a server at Nick & Sam’s. She says she went through three interviews before Zaccanelli hired her as the director of social media and marketing, disciplines she studied at the Art Institute. Lucas says her relationship with Zaccanelli has always been a professional one.
“I am not Frank Zaccanelli’s mistress,” she says. “He is my mentor. Everything has been misconstrued. I was at his house last night, having a very candid conversation with his wife and his daughter and his son. He’s been happily married for 30 years, and his wife, Yvonne, is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met in my life. I’m very close to the Zaccanelli family. All of the allegations that were made against me are completely false. They were made by four renegade guys that were in the company: Phil Romano, Shannon Bane, Reginald Bailey, Jason Woods, and Dennis DuVal.”
Why would the men make accusations that they knew were false? “Because of money,” she says. “Because of greed. They filed the lawsuit thinking that Frank would back down because of those allegations.”
Lucas continues: “The whole thing is, it’s very hard to be a woman in business. These men were always very threatened by me, because I was very honest and frank. I knew that things were happening. I knew that all of this was basically being premeditated. It was a power move.”
You can read more about the lawsuit in the Post-Standard. Among other claims, the more than 20 plaintiffs (including Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse University basketball coach) say that Zaccanelli “had company officials pay $3,000 a month to lease a house in Dallas for [Lucas] and disguise the expense as a ‘facility payment.'” Lucas says that’s not true, that she paid her own rent. “I am 1099ed on that,” she says. “That is directly deducted out of my salary.”
Update (12:15) — Phil Romano won’t say much. “You gotta check all the records. It’s all down there,” he says. “Substantiated, verified, and everything else. We just have to play it out. What else is she going to say? The facts speak for themselves. That’s all.”