Deal or No Deal?

LONOKE (KATV) - A little article on the back page of a section of the newspaper Thursday caused quite a stir among those who say a former Cabot businessman owes them money.

The back page of the Democrat-Gazette's "E" section had a write up on the central Arkansas restaurant scene. It mentioned plans to reopen Sir Loins Inn in a few months, but it also mentioned the legal trouble facing the man with that plan.

Gene Hickman's portable building business in Cabot ended in a file at the Lonoke County prosecutor's office. That file lists 37 victims who claim to be owed in the neighborhood of $175,000.

Hickman's trial is set for next week.

When we visited with Hickman last month, he remained focused not on his impending criminal trial but instead on his plans to reopen Sir Loins Inn restaurant in North Little Rock.

But in the article, Hickman was quoted as saying the "...court date involving three dozen allegations of theft of property relating to a failed Cabot business has been dropped..."

Hickman said an agreement has been reached for he to pay $50,000 next week towards what he owes former customers and make regular payments after that until his debt is paid. He will be put on probation and avoid jail time.

Hickman said the dropped court date will allow him to devote his full time and energy to re-opening Sir Loins Inn.

"The restaurant will open," Hickman assured us a month ago. "I'm giving it 99.9 percent. I'll find somebody. I mean...I don't quit. I'm determined."

But not so fast about that dropped court date says Lonoke County prosecutor Chuck Graham. Graham told 7 On Your Side late Thursday afternoon that while negotiations with Hickman's attorney are underway, there has been no deal made and before any deal would be accepted by his office, all 37 victims would have to agree to it.

So from the perspective of the prosecutor, Hickman's Tuesday trial date is still on.

Air date: August 15th, 2013