State Briefs

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2002

Company: Kmart stalled on debts

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage construction contractor said Kmart Corp. owes his company and several other local contractors for work to renovate four Alaska stores last year. Kmart has filed for reorganization and protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Greg Romack, president of Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc., said he believes Kmart purposely delayed paying the construction debt until the filing. The chain filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Tuesday in Chicago. Romack said he'll put his claim in with other creditors in the case, the largest involving a retailer in U.S. history.

Mike Wilson, Alaska district manager for Kmart, said it was "ridiculous" to say Kmart stalled on paying the debt. He said the company didn't decide to file in Bankruptcy Court until the last minute.

Romack said his company is due about a third of the $1.5 million owed on jobs to put grocery sections in two Anchorage Kmarts plus stores in Fairbanks and Juneau. The rest of the money is owed to subcontractors.

Shop liquidated to pay debt

ANCHORAGE - People looking for deals packed Frontier Printing Services on Friday for a liquidation auction of equipment once used by the Anchorage business damaged in what police initially called a hate crime.

Also on Friday, a federal judge denied a request by the shop's owner, Nezar "Mike" Maad, to move his bank fraud trial to a later date.

The auction was like a huge garage sale, with no promises as to what worked or how bad the damage was. But much of the equipment, especially the large printing presses, was in good shape, printers said. Frontier Printing closed in December, three days after Maad was arrested on federal bank fraud charges.

The Maads did not attend the auction, arranged by Northrim Bank. The bank sought the sale to help recover what's due on its $242,000 government-backed business loan to Frontier.

The loan was guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and went into default with $204,000 still due, according to Ron Veltkamp, an SBA business development officer.

"Sales like this hardly ever cover the loan amount," Veltkamp said.

The Maads received massive community sympathy after someone damaged print shop equipment and wrote "We hate Arabs" on a wall about 10 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mike Maad is Arab-American and vice president of Bridge Builders, a local group promoting diversity. People donated more than $93,000, most to a fund created to help the Maads. They received $34,000 of the money. No charges have been filed with regard to the damage. The FBI said it discovered bank fraud while investigating the damage.

2 suspected meth labs found

FAIRBANKS - Drug officers have found two suspected methamphetamine labs in North Pole homes.

Alaska State Troopers said the portable labs were found in the basements of the homes on Thursday. Troopers said officers dismantled the highly toxic and flammable meth labs.

Sgt. J.R. Roberts, who heads the local multi-agency statewide drug enforcement unit, said workers with the Division of Family and Youth Services joined the officers at one of the homes. He said the DFYS workers took custody of a child at the home while officers talked to the child's mother. Neither of the labs was active at the time of the raids, according to troopers. No arrests have been made.

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