Home » MBJ FEATURE » Chawla brothers split motel chain in wake of arrest
Donald Trump Jr., right, listens as Suresh Chawla speaks to a group of invitees inside Trump Tower, in 2017 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Chawla brothers split motel chain in wake of arrest

SURESH CHAWLA

By JACK WEATHERLY

One of two brothers who jointly owned and operated a growing chain of motels in the Mississippi Delta announced Wednesday that he has formed a new management group, Delta Lodging Group LLC.

Suresh Chawla said in a news release that the new group will be composed of 12 properties.

That leaves seven unaccounted for, not including a $20 million luxury hotel complex presumably nearing completion in Cleveland, the Lyric, that until early this year was to be jointly operated with the Trump Organization.

And the release leaves unmentioned Chawla’s brother, Dinesh, chief executive officer of Chawla Hotels.

An email to Suresh Chawla sent late Wednesday afternoon did not immediately elicit a response.

Dinesh Chawla

Dinesh Chawla was arrested in Memphis on Aug. 22 and charged with two counts of theft for allegedly stealing luggage at the Memphis International Airport.

Delta Lodging Group LLC was formed Sept. 18, according to records at the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office.

Moss B. Melton, a Greenwood attorney, is listed on the record as organizer of the new limited liability company. A call to his office late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

The New York Times reported when the arrest was revealed in a story by WREG television a Memphis affiliate of CBS, that a police affidavit stated that “Mr. Chawla had confessed to stealing luggage ‘over a long period of time.’

“Mr. Chawla told an officer ‘that he knows stealing luggage is wrong, but he does it for the thrill and excitement,’ the records said.”

In February, after the Trumps and Chawlas announced they were parting ways, Dinesh Chawla told the Mississippi Business Journal that “we’re fine financially” and “on schedule to open [the Lyric] this fall.”

The Lyric, then called the Scion, was to be the first in a chain of luxury lodging, and three of the Chawla’s lodgings were to be converted into another projected Trump-branded chain called American Idea.

The Trump brothers, Donald Jr., and Eric, operating the company in a trust while their father is in the White House, praised the Chawlas at the time of the parting of the ways was announced.

Eric said that political harassment inspired by the Democratic leadership had led to the decision to drop plans for the chains altogether.

Efforts to talk with Dinesh Chawla’s Memphis attorney have been unsuccessful.

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About Jack Weatherly