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Reopened fish plant sparks old creditor interest

Sealaska, Kake Tribal say dispute won't hamper Kake Seafoods operations

Posted: September 6, 2011 - 12:05am

Sealaska, Kake Tribal say dispute won’t hamper Kake Seafoods operations

While Sealaska Corp. is trying to get the long-troubled Kake Seafoods plant up and running, the plant’s troubled past continues to spring up.

After delays in getting the plant operating, now a former creditor is attempting to claim ownership of some of the plant’s equipment. Sealaska and Kake Tribal Corp. spokeswomen say they don’t expect those claims to be successful.

Seattle businessman Rodger May is suing former plant operator Bob Endreson. While he was operating Kake Seafoods Endreson was borrowing money from May and attempting to purchase the Kake Tribal-owned plant.

May has sued Endreson and he’s now going after the plant equipment as well.

“There have been some claims filed (for Kake Seafoods equipment), and Kake Tribal has filed a counter claim,” said Dixie Hutchison, spokeswoman for Sealaska.

She said that is a legal issue between Kake Tribal and the other parties.

“Sealaska is the operator of the facility, but we don’t own the equipment,” she said.

Hutchison said Sealaska did not believe the dispute would threaten the plant’s operations.

Kake Tribal’s new CEO, Vicki Wolfe, said she’s still trying to sort out conflicting claims but said she believes her tribal corporation owns to all the plant’s equipment.

In an email to the Empire, Endreson said he had “over $200,000 in unpaid invoices for the equipment they’re using.”

He blames Kake Tribal’s inability to provide clear title to the plant for his inability to obtain financing and continue operations.

Wolfe said Kake Tribal has sought from Endreson any evidence he has of any claim on the plant’s equipment.

“Kake Tribal initially owned the equipment, we’ve told Endreson ‘Show us proof you bought the equipment,’” she said.

She said the dispute is between May and Endreson and companies Endreson controls, and not Kake Tribal.

Two Seattle-based attorneys for May did not return phone calls Friday.

Anchorage attorney Mike Mills, representing Kake Tribal, said May was simply looking for assets to satisfy a judgment against Endreson

“They’re trying to find property of Endreson’s and they’re certain there’s some at the plant but we’re disputing that,” Mills said.

Mills said he did not expect the legal action to hamper plant operations.

Sealaska’s Hutchison agreed. “We don’t think any of these claims will interfere with our proceedings and a successful year at the plant,” she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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