Rascals Flatts have put a halt to their plans to open a string of Rascal Flatts-themed restaurants as one of the developers behind the deal has been exposed as an alleged mobster with a long criminal history.

The band announced plans for the restaurants in 2012, and the Arizona Republic reports that the trio entered into a licensing agreement that would allow a developer to use the band's name, logo and image to build a series of locations in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Hollywood, Des Moines, St. Louis and more cities all over the country. According to bombshell reporting, the company hired to oversee the project was actually a front for a man named Frank Capri, which is actually the new identity of a third generation mobster named Frank Gioia Jr. Gioia had a criminal record that included drug dealing, gun running, leg breaking and even murder. He entered Witness Protection and took his new identity as Frank Capri in 1999 after turning witness against more than 70 mobsters in one of the biggest cases in mafia history.

In recent years Capri has been working behind the scenes in cooking up shady real estate development deals, using a company with no attachments to his name to raise money for projects and then repeatedly failing to pay sub-contractors, breaking leases and keeping the money for himself. That was how he handled the Rascal Flatts projects he worked on, using his girlfriend's company as a public front while he handled the hiring, firing, employee payments, permits, construction schedules and collection of development fees.

Only one of the projected restaurants ever opened, and it closed within a year. Multiple lawsuits that developers and contractors have filed against Capri allege that he would simply pocket the development fees and construction draws he would demand in advance and essentially drop the projects. The Republic has obtained a string of profanity-laced voice mails Capri left for various contractors in 2018 that document the strong-arm tactics he employed to obtain more money in advance.

In a statement to the Republic, a representative for Rascal Flatts says, "The band terminated the license agreement and is no longer in business with this company or Mr. Capri ... Rascal Flatts licensed use of their name, image and logo to the restaurant developer and had nothing to do with the construction or build out plans for these restaurants. The use of the Rascal Flatts name in association with restaurants owned by RF IP, LLC or Frank Capri is no longer authorized."

The group turned to social media to explain the situation to their fans:

The Republic reports that Capri was previously responsible for building twenty of Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill locations beginning in 2009, and had announced plans to build twenty more that never opened. All but one location had closed by 2015, hounded out of business by money problems and followed by a string of lawsuits alleging rampant fraud and theft.

Toby Keith declined to discuss the matter with the Republic. The federal government has refused to comment on the Republic's reporting about Capri's alleged participation in Witness Protection or his true identity.

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