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Nick Cho‘s arrest today on 82 counts of tax fraud not only spells trouble for the former Murky Coffee owner, but also, potentially, for his current place of employment, Chinatown Coffee Co, where Cho oversees operations.

After all, Cho faces 180 days in jail for each count. That’s more than 40 years behind bars if convicted and sentenced on all counts.

Y&H contacted Max Brown, co-owner of Chinatown Coffee, to get his take on the situation.

“I knew he had some tax problems, which were a concern for me, but I assumed that he was working them out,” says Brown, former general counsel to the District’s Chief Financial Officer.

Brown says that, from the beginning, Cho was a consultant at his gourmet coffee shop, not an employee or partner. Cho’s purpose as interim GM at Chinatown Coffee, Brown adds, was to help set up the shop and then groom a full-time general manager to take over operations. In fact, the new GM, Travis Edwards, will assume his new post on Sunday, Nov. 1, Brown says.

“As a reputable and credible business owner, I view this as an extremely serious matter, and it is my hope that due process takes its course, however it may turn out,” Brown says.

And will Cho continue at Chinatown Coffee in any capacity in the future? “Ihave to look at the facts,” Brown says. “We are going to do our due diligence.”

UPDATE, 6:44 p.m.: Max Brown and Chinatown Coffee release an official statement just minutes ago. It reads:

“We learned today, along with everyone else, of the criminal proceedings initiated by the District against Nic Cho from matters associated with his prior ownership of Murky Coffee. If these allegations are true, we are deeply disturbed and everyone should be held accountable for their actions.

Cho, a consultant to us, helped establish and set up the shop, and it was always our intent to transition to a full-time employee manager. That was, in fact, in the works prior to us learning of this news today.

Travis Edwards, currently our Deputy Manager, will become our General Manager effective November 1, 2009. Travis brings a wealth of experience in the specialty coffee industry and is extremely capable and well-respected within the community.”

Photo by cerbuside via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License