According to these court documents obtained by Action News Gary and Glennyce Cropper, the owners of Abbey Design, filed for bankruptcy on November 7th.
The paperwork shows they owe money to more than 200 people and businesses. The doors of abbey design and flooring center closed nearly two weeks ago, but the bankruptcy court papers show the problems began years earlier.
The filing lists 205 creditors, people the croppers owe money to. Among those listed is the government. The documents show the Croppers owe more than half a million dollars in state and federal taxes as far back as 2006.
"They've valued the business at zero dollars. In essence they're saying the business isn't worth anything," said Benny Barco a Fresno bankruptcy attorney.
Barco reviewed the petition for Action News. He said by filing for Chapter 7 as individuals and not a company the Croppers are protecting themselves from liability cases in the future.
"That stops all creditors from attempting any collection efforts against them individually," Barco said. "It's also a liquidation process, meaning their assets may be sold."
The total assets fall far short of what is owed. According to court papers, the Croppers' liabilities are listed at nearly $3.5 million. That's about $3 million over their listed assets.
Some of the highest debt amounts are listed at nearly $300,000 which is owed to their landlord. And more than $100,000 is shown as owed to a flooring company in Chicago, Il.
"The complaint is basically the same issue, so there's this great pattern," said Blair Looney, the CEO of the Central California Better Business Bureau.
As we've been reporting, customers have complained to the BBB of unfinished work, even after they said they paid half of their contract work costs up-front.
"Those people who have claims need to be listed as part of the bankruptcy as a creditor, so if there is an opportunity to recover anything, they need to be on that list," Looney said.
The BBB said it now has 25 complaints against Abbey Design. And the State Contractors License Board, which launched an investigation last week, now has 8 open complaints. This type of filing also allows the Croppers to claim exemptions, like their home, cars and insurance policies.
Their bankruptcy attorney did not want to talk on camera about the case and he said neither would the Croppers.
There will be a creditors meeting on the bankruptcy proceedings in December.
BBB News Release:
"Those with monetary claims against the company are advised to obtain a Proof of Claim form by writing to US Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California, 1130 O Street, Room 2656, Fresno, CA, 93721 for resubmission to that court. The case number should be entered on the form."