Roland Von Kunatowski, one of the owners of Tipitina’s and the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans, is named in a lawsuit filed in the city’s federal courthouse last month and stands accused of pilfering money from investors.
According to a report from The Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas, a retired Jesuit priest filed the suit, which accuses Von Kurnatowski of persuading the priest to invest in a “Ponzi scheme.” The priest, a Mr. Antone Lynch, accused Von Kurnatowski of misleading him into believing investing in “Bond Fund One” was a sound investment. Also known as BF-I, the fund was purported to trade U.S. Treasury bills. Additionally, this lawsuit accuses Von Kurnatowski of misappropriating his client’s funds and violating securities laws. Lynch says he contributed $10,000 in the early 1990s and was told in 2017 his stake was worth more than $350,000. According to documents pertaining to his lawsuit, Von Kurnatowski took 40 percent or more of the profits of the investment fund, “a significantly higher fee than that charged by even the most high-performing Wall Street hedge funds.”
In a second lawsuit filed against Von Kurnatowski, this one in Civil District Court over the summer, four different people allege they lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars after investing in the same fund,” BF-I. As Vargas reports, the four say they have made attempts to recoup their money but have been unsuccessful, though they do not go as far as calling him “a fraudster.”
These two lawsuits are not the only legal troubles Von Kurnatowski is facing thanks to the so-called Bound Fund One. As Vargas writes, a lawyer in Harahan named Vinny Mosca says he represents a retired Tulane professor who invested more than $200,000 in BF-I and is now unable to liquidate the return on his investment.
“When my client tried to cash out, he was told there was no money,” Mosca says in Vargas’ report. Mosca also called Von Kurnatowski’s alleged business dealings “a fraudulent scheme.”
Von Kurnatowski is also facing accusations of “defaulting on about $180,000 in loans from Hancock Whitney Bank and reneging on a debt of nearly $1 million owed to a real estate firm known as Riverlake New Orleans Properties LLC,” per Vargas.
That real estate firm is reportedly owned by Von Kurnatowski’s sister, Joan Hooper, and her two sons.
He’s also the co-owner, along with his wife, Mary, of the Tipitina’s Foundation.