A timber investment company filed an emergency motion Tuesday asking a federal judge in Texarkana to take steps that might prevent a Maud, Texas, couple accused of fraud from hiding and selling assets.
Georgia-based Forest Investment Associates allege in a civil suit that April Thompson and James Thompson conspired over an eight-year period to defraud the company of more than $4 million through phony invoices generated at a local timber management company where April Thompson once worked. The suit accuses the Thompsons of submitting fraudulent invoices for forestry work James Thompson never performed.
A recently filed amended complaint accuses the couple of funneling more than $600,000 into their businesses, James Thompson Trucking and James Thompson Racing. FIA has from the beginning sought the court's help in insuring that the assets the Thompsons currently hold are not hidden, liquidated or transferred. Texarkana lawyer Geoffery Culbertson filed a motion last month accusing the Thompsons of violating an agreed restraining order in the case concerning the preservation of assets.
The day before a hearing was set to address the issue, the two sides filed a joint motion indicating that they were in the process of setting up a receivership to oversee the Thompsons' finances and assets. Culbertson filed an emergency motion Tuesday for the appointment of a receiver that alleges the defense has "slow-played" the receivership agreement while the Thompsons continue to sell equipment and drain cash from bank accounts.
The emergency motion alleges it received banking documents from the Thompsons which show they have withdrawn more than $36,000 in cash from bank accounts since the entry of a temporary restraining order May 23. The withdrawals are "often in $50 and $100 denominations."
"FIA also received documents from Tri-State Pawn revealing that some or all of the defendants are in possession of large quantities of gold and silver," the emergency motion states. "These precious metals were not previously disclosed despite court-ordered discovery."
The motion goes on to allege that the Thompsons sold a 2018 Peterbilt tractor to a Kansas company for $95,000, with the proceeds being deposited into the Thompsons' personal bank account rather than a business account for James Thompson Trucking. In its motion in July, FIA complained of the Thompsons' sale of a commercial mower for $12,600 and a withdrawal of $8,600 in cash the same day.
"Finally, FIA discovered that the defendants are encumbering assets with financing from asset-based lendersand likely pledged assets to obtain that funding," the emergency motion states.
FIA argues that its need for a receiver in the case is an emergency.
"FIA cannot sit idly by while the defendants line their pockets by obtaining money while encumbering assets that were acquired with funds defendants stole from FIA," the emergency motion states. "Nor can FIA afford to wait while defendants slow-play the negotiation of a receivership order on the one hand, and drain cash from their accounts on the other."
The emergency motion laments "imminent danger that property will be concealed, lost and diminished in value" if the court doesn't quickly appoint a receiver.
"And the weekly expense reports required under the TRO (temporary restraining order) are routinely late and incomplete," the emergency motion states. "For example, FIA has discovered payments for pool service and airline tickets and withdrawals of vacation cash that have not been reported."
A hearing to address the emergency motion is scheduled next week before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III. The Thompsons are represented by Texarkana lawyer Darren Anderson and Texarkana lawyer Sean Rommel.