Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published December 20, 2010 at 9:18 PM | Page modified December 21, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Hero in girl's rescue owes pile of money

On Oct. 28, the owner of Rizzo's French Dip made The Seattle Times after he got credit for rescuing a little girl from a burning car. The same day, Kenny Johnson also got a notice from his landlord: Get out. It turns out that Johnson — who also goes by the name Frank Rizzo — was way behind on his bills. The restaurant closed abruptly last month, and Johnson has moved to Los Angeles.

Seattle Times staff reporter

On Oct. 28, the owner of Rizzo's French Dip made The Seattle Times after he got credit for rescuing a little girl from a burning car.

The same day, Kenny Johnson also got a notice from his landlord: Get out.

It turns out that Johnson — who also goes by the name Frank Rizzo — was way behind on his bills. The restaurant closed abruptly this month, and Johnson has moved to Los Angeles.

The landlord's notice says Johnson owed nearly $3,000 in back rent. He owed $3,200 more in unpaid utilities.

Johnson, 40, confirmed all this. He also said he owed the state back sales tax.

Then he added: "You know, I am a hero awarded a proclamation from the city of Seattle."

On Oct. 21, Johnson witnessed a fiery crash near his Ballard sandwich shop. He said he rushed to the car, ripped the door off the hinge and pulled 3-year-old, Anna Kotowicz from the back seat. She wound up with some bruising and a broken arm.

Her father, Andy Kotowicz, a longtime employee of Sub Pop Records, died in the crash.

Johnson thought he "had a pass to heaven," employee Nathan K. Grier says now.

And for a time, business at the sandwich shop was booming. It seemed everyone wanted to support the man who'd saved the little girl.

His employees say, however, Johnson left them holding the bag. They did not receive regular salaries and thus can't collect unemployment. Moreover, Johnson put the utility bills in 22-year-old Grier's name. Johnson confirms all this.

How Grier's name came to be on the utility bill is a matter in dispute.

advertising

In any case, it covers both the restaurant and the house behind the shop, which Johnson leased from the same landlord. He let Grier live there in exchange for working in the shop. Employee Anthony Ferris, 22, also lived there, Johnson said. In addition, the men earned tips, and Ferris got $30 a day.

Grier and Ferris are angry. They lost their jobs and their home in one day. They say Johnson received the 30-day notice from the landlord before he left town but neglected to tell them. Johnson said that's not true.

The landlord could not be reached for comment.

Johnson himself confirmed that his image as a hero is somewhat at odds with his track record, which includes a felony conviction. He insisted he would pay all the money he owes.

"I have no reason to lie because I'm a grown man," he said.

Staff reporter Erik Lacitis contributed to this report.

Maureen O'Hagan: 206-464-2562 or mohagan@seattletimes.com

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

More Local News headlines...

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

Advertising