The mysterious $100 million company that owns only a single New Jersey deli on Monday killed a consulting agreement that had paid a firm controlled by the father of the deli company chairman $15,000 per month, a financial filing revealed.
The move by Hometown International to end the consulting deal with Tryon Capital LLC by mutual agreement came after CNBC detailed the close ties between Tryon’s Peter Coker Sr. and the deli owner, whose chairman is Peter Coker Jr.
At the same time, E-Waste, a shell company linked to Coker Sr. and to Hometown International, ended its own consulting deal that was paying Tryon Capital $2,500 per month, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing said.
An 8-K filing by Hometown International on Monday announcing the end of the agreement noted “the recent negative press” regarding that firm “and the principals of Tryon.”
The end of the agreement was lauded by Manoj Jain, the founder of Maso Capital in Hong Kong, a major investor in Hometown International. Jain is also involved with efforts related to E-Waste.
Jain in a statement made a reference to CNBC’s reporting over the past week or so about Peter Coker Sr., and people associated with Tryon Capital, as well as to E-Waste.
“We are very concerned by these serious allegations and we are glad that the relationship between both companies and Tryon Consulting has now been terminated,” Jain said in a statement to CNBC.
“We look forward to both public companies taking forward their stated acquisition plans,” Jain said.
Jain holds sole voting power over about 2.5 million common stock shares of Hometown International, or more than 20% of the nearly 8 million Hometown International common shares outstanding.
An SEC filing by Hometown International in April 2020, and a similar filing by E-Waste this month, suggests that both companies intend to use investments by Jain and others to finance efforts to evaluate potential merge candidates with other companies, particularly private firms. The filings by each company almost exactly a year apart indicate they either sold or were selling 2.5 million shares of stock apiece.
While Hometown International has miniscule sales at its deli, and E-Waste has no business to speak off, both companies could be attractive to viable private companies looking to become publicly traded entities in the United States through the use of a reverse merger or other means.
The end of Tryon Capital’s consulting deals comes after Hometown International was delisted from the more prestigious over-the-counter market platform OTCQB last week, and relegated to the less prestigious Pink market because of “public interest concerns.” It was also slapped with a “buyer beware” warning label.
OTC Markets Group officials said the demotion resulted from “irregularities” in Hometown International’s public disclosures. They also said they were eyeing the filings of E-Waste, whose mailing address is that of another North Carolina company linked to Coker Sr.
E-Waste also owes $150,000 to Hometown International, according to a promissory note filed with the SEC.
CNBC has detailed how Peter Coker Sr., who holds more than 63,000 shares of Hometown common stock, has been sued in the past for allegedly hiding money from creditors and business-related fraud. He has denied those allegations.
In August 1992, it has been reported, Coker Sr. was arrested in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and charged “with prostitution and other offenses after he allegedly exposed himself to three girls as he drove around” a school one night. Coker Sr. has not returned repeated requests for comment.
CNBC also has detailed Coker Sr.’s ties to E-Waste, whose termination of its consulting agreement with Tryon also was announced in an 8-K that used language almost identical to that of Hometown International’s filing.
Coker Sr.’s partner in Tryon Capital, Peter Reichard, in 2011 entered a plea in a criminal case that led to his conviction for a scheme to illegally contribute thousands of dollars to the successful 2008 campaign for North Carolina of Bev Perdue, a Democrat who won that race.
The scheme involved the use of a bogus consulting contract between Tryon Capital Ventures and a fast-food franchisee who wanted to support Perdue. Coker Sr. was not charged in that case.
Reichard also is a managing member, with Coker Sr., of an entity called Europa Capital Investments, which owns 90,400 common shares of Hometown International, and has warrants for another 1.9 million shares.
James Patten, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a financial analyst at Coker Sr.’s Tryon Capital, wrestled in high school with Hometown International’s CEO, Paul Morina. Your Hometown Deli is located in Paulsboro, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia.
Morina is the principal of Paulsboro High School, and coach of that school’s renowned wrestling team.
Patten is barred by FINRA, the broker-dealer regulator, from acting as a stockbroker or associating with broker-dealers, according to that regulator’s database.
The company’s consulting deal with Tryon Capital was signed last May, while the deli was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its filing with the SEC on Monday, Hometown International said:
“On April 26, 2021, Hometown International, Inc., a Nevada corporation (the “Company”), and Tryon Capital, LLC, a North Carolina limited liability company (“Tryon”), executed a Termination of Consulting Agreement (the “Termination of Consulting Agreement”), pursuant to which they mutually agreed to terminate the Consulting Agreement, dated as May 1, 2020, between the parties (the “Consulting Agreement”), such termination to be effective immediately.”
“The parties also agreed to release each other from any claims relating to the Consulting Agreement,” the filing said.
“In light of the recent negative press regarding the Company and the principals of Tryon, the parties determined that it was in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders to terminate the Consulting Agreement at this time,” the filing said.
“The parties believe that such termination will reduce distractions and enable the Company to move forward with its planned acquisition strategy.”
The filing was signed by Morina.
Hometown International has drawn widespread scrutiny after hedge fund manager David Einhorn noted that the company’s market capitalization has topped $100 million despite the fact that its only business is a tiny deli in Paulsboro.
The deli has had just $35,000 or so in sales in 2019 and 2020 combined.