LiTEBOX was welcomed to Indiana with great fanfare last October, promising more than 1,000 jobs, with Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on hand for the big announcement.
Four months later, former business associates are urging Hoosiers to be leery of Bob Yanagihara, CEO of LiTEBOX.
California attorney Marc Karlin said his client, Paul Nash, sued Yanagihara a few years ago after Yanagihara convinced Nash to give him $100,000 for a real estate venture, but Karlin said Yanagihara never bought the property and didn't return the money to Nash.
Nash won the court case, but Karlin said Yanagihara still didn't pay up. Karlin said his case isn't the only one in California involving Yanagihara that resulted in large, unpaid judgments against the businessman.
Another attorney involved in a lawsuit against Yanagihara called him a ghost who disappears and never pays up, RTV6's Jenna Kooi
Karlin said he considers Yanagihara very untrustworthy.
"I know from experience here in this case that he, it's rare that a business person who is reputable has multiple lawsuits against him," Karlin said. "I would say conduct your due diligence. Investigate him."
Yanagihara responded to an interview request with an email.
"We are making leaps and bounds. I would be happy to give you folks a good story very soon," the email read. "I have some key developments that need to be signed before I can release a great story."
RTV6 visited the property on Indianapolis' northwest side where the company's factory is supposed to be built, and it appears there has been activity. Utility lines are marked, but ground hasn't been broken.
The company said it planned to hire more than 1,000 people to make large mobile LED screens at $3 million per unit.
LiTEBOX was offered $11 million in city and state tax abatement and training grants, but the deal is structured so that LiTEBOX doesn't get the incentives if it doesn't follow through on its job plans.
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