A hearing is expected to take place on May 17 in New York State Supreme Court in the ongoing battle between designer Jackie Rogers and a former executive over who owns the business.
In a lawsuit filed in February between Rogers and Hudson 38 Holdings LLC, the designer sued the landlord for an illegal lockout, but it was Rasheem Riley, who claims that Rogers had given him ownership of the company, who had locked her out of her offices at 330 West 38th Street, Room 902.
Subsequently in a temporary order, the court gave Rogers ownership of the company — and Riley wants to get ownership back.
“She’s basically trying to take over a company she doesn’t own,” claimed Peter Rivera, an attorney at Goldstein Hall PLLC, who represents Riley. Rivera said that ownership of the company “was inadvertently given to her.”
Reached for comment, Rogers said about Riley, “I fired him. He did some things he shouldn’t do and that’s the end of it.” Asked about Riley trying to get the company back, she said, “He can’t because it’s my business. I put his name in there only as a courtesy as an African-American to make him feel good. It was my lawyer’s idea. Don’t ever call me on these things. I don’t like it.”
Riley said he’s been working with Rogers since 2003 handling production, wholesale and retail sales and as a controller. In 2013, when she was facing bankruptcy, the lawyers decided to put the company in his name.
“She was using the business as her personal bank account,” claimed Riley. He said they owed employees money, and he shut down the company, closing her out. After he had surgery for a torn meniscus and was recuperating in the hospital, Rogers succeeded in getting the court to put the company back in her name.
“’I’m like the buffer between Jackie and everybody else,” alleged Riley, who claims he has owned Jackie Rogers International since 2013, when a new company was created with him as president. He said they went to court Tuesday to try and get a receiver to control the books. “She’s blocking that,” he said.
Another one of Riley’s attorneys, Brian Markowitz, wrote a letter to Hon. Shlomo S. Hagler, Justice of the Supreme Court, on April 30, discussing an adjournment request by Rogers’ attorney, Randy Zelin, which alleged in part, “In the interim, there is a very real crisis involved in this action, wherein every day that goes by, Ms. Rogers may be siphoning monie [sic] and potentially using client credit cards for fraudulent transactions. This was the basis for our request for the appointment for a temporary receiver.”
“These adjournments significantly prejudice my client in that my client has not had access to the books and records of the corporation for three months, and he does not know what the status of the corporation is. We’ve received confirmation that the rent for April 2018 for the corporation’s property in West Palm Beach, Florida remains past due, signifying that Ms. Rogers has not paid it, and further supporting the need for a receiver for the corporation while the action is pending,” wrote Markowitz.
Zelin couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
Riley said that, if she agreed, he would like to give her 7 percent royalties and pay her salary and have her design from home. “She can design the clothes, but not in the office. I just want her to stay away from the business,” said Riley. He said it’s better for Rogers in the long run, and she can still design and do her trunk shows. “That name will die with Jackie,” he contended, but said that the company would go on if he could run it. “I’m trying to make some agreement with her. It’s not like we’re trying to throw her out on the street. We’re trying to save her, save the company and save her brand. And she just makes this worse and worse and worse,” claimed Riley.
An interim order filed May 1 said Rogers is prohibited from removing any money from the company, except to pay business expenses, and may not transfer any money to herself, except for business expenses. Further, it said, “Ms. Rogers is prohibited from charging any customer credit card for any purposes other than for actual purchases, pending final hearing…” and that Rogers is prohibited from removing any materials, goods or equipment from the premises pending the final hearing.