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Homer’s Restaurant Family Feud Heats Up

4 min read

The dispute involving the children of Homer’s Restaurant founder Homer Connell has escalated, with allegations that Katrina Connell Vaughn, trustee of two family trusts, misappropriated money and used her brother’s credit card for plastic surgery, “life coaching” and a psychic hotline.

If you’ll remember, Vaughn filed suit in November against her two brothers, Robert Connell and David Connell; Robert Connell’s wife, Alicia Ford Connell; and DC Group Inc., which operates Homer’s West Restaurant in west Little Rock.

The three siblings are the children of Homer Connell, who opened the original Homer’s Restaurant, at 2001 E. Roosevelt Road, in 1986, and his widow, Remedios or “Remy.” Homer Connell died June 17 at age 73.

Vaughn’s lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, described her disagreements with her brothers as “an unfortunate family dispute in which two elderly parents — a mother who has long been incapacitated and a father who is recently deceased — have been taken advantage of by certain family members in an effort to improperly assert control over their finances and property.”

Vaughn’s suit asks the court “to stop the misappropriation and diversion of assets” and re-establish Vaughn as trustee of her parents’ trusts and the person in charge of finances and health care for her mother, who is in a nursing home.

The lawsuit also says that the brothers are excluding Vaughn from her rightful role in running the original restaurant, sometimes called Homer’s East, and in receiving a share of profits from Homer’s West, at 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road.

In response, her brother David has denied Vaughn’s claims and lobbed some claims of his own.

David Connell’s answer and counterclaim says his sister has failed to fulfill her fiduciary duties as trustee, adding that Vaughn is unemployed and has used proceeds from the sale of their parents’ and an estate sale for her “own benefit, thereby breaching her duty to refrain from self-dealing.”

Connell further alleges that Vaughn has “a personal vendetta” against him and their brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Alicia, and that Vaughn “has conveyed open hostilities” toward him and has failed to provide financial accountings.

“Rather, Plaintiff chose instead to file the Complaint alleging that Counterclaimant, Alicia and Robert have misappropriated funds from Homer’s East without any proof or substantiation therefor.”

Life Coaching & Psychics
As to Vaughn’s allegation that her brothers and sister-in-law misappropriated money from Homer’s East and made unauthorized charges on the company credit card?

David Connell says he hasn’t worked at Homer’s East since December 2010, Robert Connell hasn’t worked there in at least a decade, and Alicia Connell “has provided Plaintiff with all financial documents relating to Homer’s East since Plaintiff was fired, none of which reflect any misappropriation.”

On the contrary, David Connell says their father fired Vaughn in December 2015 “due to the fact that he found that Plaintiff was misappropriating funds.”

Connell says Homer Connell then hired Dorsey & Co., a Little Rock accounting firm, to examine the restaurant’s finances, provide payroll services and prepare its tax filings. Dorsey & Co. found $39,750 in unauthorized transfers from the restaurant’s checking account to Vaughn’s personal account, David Connell says.

In addition, Connell’s filing says, “because Plaintiff was so ill-equipped at handling the finances of Homer’s East, the Company Checking Account was debited $1,479 in 2013 and $2,312 in 2014 for insufficient fund charges.”

Connell says that after he left Homer’s East to establish Homer’s West, he forgot to cancel a credit card that was used for purchases at Homer’s East. Vaughn charged more than $35,000 in personal expenses to that card without his consent or knowledge, he alleges.

Among those expenses, for which he provided copies of his credit card statements:

  • $7,685 to “’PSI Ed Love,’ who is a local plastic surgeon. Plaintiff has admitted to Counterclaimant that this charge was for Plaintiff’s plastic surgery.”
  • $3,852.51 to Master Coaches of Clearwater, Florida, “a company specializing in providing life coaching therapy.”
  • $1,496.23 to “a company called TRIAD37JLLC-ASKNOW, which is a psychic hotline.”

Connell goes on to allege that his sister was in charge of filing taxes for Homer’s East from 2011-15, but that the IRS placed a $54,802.96 lien on the restaurant in 2016 because of taxes owed for 2011-13.

Connell asks the court to remove Vaughn as trustee of the family trusts and to appoint an independent corporate trustee. He also seeks damages to be determined at trial and attorneys’ fees.

For her part, Vaughn denies her brother’s assertions and says that the credit card statements — including those listing payments to PSI Ed Love, Master Coaches and ASKNOW — “speak for themselves and she denies Defendant’s characterization of same.”

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