More information is coming to light about what may have caused Golden Krust restaurant chain CEO Lowell Hawthorne to commit suicide on Saturday. Hawthorne, 57, was under financial pressure, fearful that the federal government was investigating him for tax evasion and pressured from a lawsuit alleging that he owed unpaid wages, The New York Post reported.
Al Alston, a longtime friend and owner of a Golden Krust franchise, said Hawthorne’s suicide was “more than unexpected—it’s out of character,” recalling him as “an upbeat guy” who was always optimistic about finding a way forward in tough times.
Hawthorne, a Jamaican immigrant, opened his beef patty factor in the Bronx in 1989, and he grew it into an empire of 120 restaurant outlets in nine states. His rags-to-riches story ended in tragedy, with Hawthorne admitting to family members about his tax debt and muttering to himself hours before his suicide. In addition to the tax bill, he also faced a proposed class-action lawsuit from at least 100 employees who alleged that he owed them overtime pay. A surveillance video shows Hawthorne in his office at the Bronx factory speaking with two employees. After they walked out, he shot himself in the head. One of the employees he had just spoken with called 911 to report the incident. He was found with a single bullet to the head. The married father of four left an apology note to his family.
Steven Clarke, Hawthorne’s nephew and company spokesman, said his uncle’s wife, Lorna Hawthorne, is making funeral arrangements. “Right now, we’re still processing and trying to wrap our mind around this tragic loss,” he stated at a news conference. Meanwhile, family and friends gathered on Sunday at Hawthorne’s home to share their grief.
SOURCE: New York Post