TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Customers, lenders, suppliers and state regulators all filed as creditors in the personal bankruptcy of James Staten, who owned Olympus Pools until it closed in July amid a state fraud investigation.
In court documents filed this week, Staten and his wife, Alexis, objected to many of those claims and asked a judge to remove many of those creditors, including 29 customers seeking a combined more than $1 million dollars.
This is the latest twist in a story Better Call Behnken broke last April when hundreds of customers’ pools were unfinished and customers complained the company stopped showing up to work on their pools or stopped returning calls.
Staten’s attorney, Joel Aresty, tells Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken that these claims should be claims against Olympus Pools and don’t belong in the personal bankruptcy case. Olympus Pools itself has not filed for bankruptcy.
Consumers must respond to the objection within 30 days or a judge could remove them from the case. Aresty argues that the money they would be able to obtain would be “pennies on the dollar.”
He said he feels for the customers and that his clients are suffering the financial fallout of Olympus Pools as well.
In his reorganization plan filed this week, Staten’s attorney also objected to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s $1.4 million penalty against Staten. Staten previously agreed to pay the fine if he ever applies for another contractor’s license in Florida.
Also challenged was a $1.6 million claim by a lender who paid out on loans for customer pools.
A judge is expected to rule on these objections next month.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a lawsuit against Olympus Pools and James Staten personally in October alleging “unlawful behavior.” That civil case is still working its way through the court system.
“We have hundreds of folks who were promised a certain product or service, it was not delivered,” Moody to Behnken in an exclusive interview. “We have brought action for false, deceptive trade practices. We’re not only seeking fines for that unlawful behavior but also restitution for so many Floridians that are out of money because of these schemes.”