PIKEVILLE — A Salyersville family business was hit with a multi-million dollar judgment, after the United States Bankruptcy Court found them culpable in a fraud case.
On May 15, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky entered a $5.6 million judgment against P&J Resources Inc. and its owners, Richard and Pam Williams.
The rulings were the culmination of a multi-year legal struggle by the family of Raymond Fontaine, of Florida, to prove fraud perpetrated on them by P&J and the Williamses.
In the opinion produced by the courts, they found that the Williamses had “fraudulently induced Mr. Fontaine and the plaintiffs to invest in nonexistent and worthless gas wells. As part of this scheme, the plaintiffs have proven that the defendants also converted thousands of dollars of the plaintiffs’ investment money for their own use and breached the contracts between the defendants and the plaintiffs when P&J ultimately failed to perform as promised.”
The opinion further stated that the Williamses could not hide behind P&J for its breach of contract, because “P&J is merely an alter ego used to perpetuate fraud.”
Among the evidence submitted during the hearings was that the Williamses had falsified reports submitted under oath to the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas. The plaintiffs also claimed the Williamses falsely inflated gas production in reports sent to the Fontaines to make it appear that the wells existed, were productive and were a good investment.
In his opinion, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Tracey N. Wise found that, “the lies didn’t stop with the misrepresentation about the wells of the production reported; the evidence shows that in many instances, the defendants just took the plaintiffs’ money without giving anything in return.”
The Williamses had previously filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7. The courts notified the Williamses that the court’s judgement would remain enforceable against them, notwithstanding their bankruptcy case.