Trouble at Sissy’s Fried Chicken: Lisa Garza Sues Partner For Fraud

Lisa Garza (Photo: Micah Nunley)

Late yesterday, Lisa Garza Selcer, co-owner of Sissy’s Fried Chicken, filed a lawsuit against her business partner Thomas Welch. According to the document, Garza, a 51% majority member, accuses Welch,a  49 % minority member, of making withdrawals from the restaurant’s bank account and not paying them back. The original Membership Agreement required any checks or withdrawals in excess of $5,000 be signed by both partners. The lawsuit states:

In complete disregard of the Membership Agreement’s provisions – and from practically the beginning of Sissy’s operations – Welch abused his position as Sissy’s accountant (and as a partner in the business) by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of Sissy’s money for his own use, without Garza’s consent, which is required under the Membership Agreement.

More egregiously still, Welch tried to hide his theft by denying Garza – the majority owner of  Sissy’s – access to the books and records of Sissy’s, including access to its bank accounts. Welch’s undisclosed (and unauthorized) withdrawals, totally more than $237,000, have placed Sissy’s at imminent risk of immediate and irreparable harm by, among other things, leaving Sissy’s bank account with an insufficient balance to cover outstanding checks, causing Sissy’s to default on its obligations (including, but not limited to, its property taxes, which are now overdue), and causing Sissy’s to breach its lease agreement.

Garza’s claim continues:

Far from returning the money owed to Sissy’s, as Garza demanded, Welch intentionally, and with the clear intent to ruin Sissy’s business, embezzled an additional $20,000 from Sissy’s bank account(s) on 12 February 2014, further compounding the untenable situation for Sissy’s business operations. In addition to his further thefts, Welch has openly stated his intent to further harm Sissy’s business by interfering with Sissy’s TABC-issued on-premise liquor license.

I reached out to Garza, her publicist, and lawyer. She is unavailable for comment.