Red Brick Council for the Arts embezzlement suspect’s snowboard company goes bankrupt, avoids Aspen receivership hearing
A snowboard-gear company co-owned by the woman under investigation for bilking some $150,000 from an Aspen nonprofit has declared bankruptcy.
Basalt-based Bomber Industries Inc. filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition just after 9:15 a.m. Oct. 20, nearly 15 minutes before its owners, married couple Angela and James Callen, were scheduled to appear in Pitkin County District Court for a receivership hearing brought on by Alpine Bank.
The bankruptcy effectively put on hold the receivership proceedings against Bomber. Had presiding Judge Chris Seldin approved the receivership, Bomber’s finances would have been turned over to a court-appointed person to manage until the debt dispute was resolved.
Alpine had asked that Fintan Doyle, the founder and former owner of Bomber who sold it to the Callens, be appointed as receiver because “he is highly familiar with Bomber’s business operations and the industry within which it once operated under his control.” Doyle, according to a motion from Alpine Bank, had agreed to manage the Bomber business at a rate of $50 an hour during his term as receiver.
Alpine Bank filed its complaint against Bomber and the Callens on Oct. 16, alleging the couple were delinquent to the tune of $51,570 on a $90,000 business loan they obtained in May 2015.
Bomber’s bankruptcy attorney, Kevin Neiman of Denver, could not be reached for immediate comment Wednesday. Aspen law firm Garfield & Hecht PC has represented Alpine Bank in the receivership action and also is a party in the bankruptcy case.
“My client doesn’t comment on pending litigation,” said Chris Bryan of Garfield & Hecht.
Earlier this year, the Pitkin County District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into Angela Callen, who has not responded to calls for comment, for alleged embezzlement from the Red Brick Council for the Arts, according to a Sept. 28 announcement from the city of Aspen.
The city owns the Red Brick Center for the Arts, which is a venue for nonprofit artists and organizations and other offerings. Through a contract with the city, the center is managed and operated by the Red Brick Council, for which Callen served as executive director from 2013 until she was fired in June, which was around the time the bilking allegations surfaced.
As of Wednesday, no criminal charges had been filed against Callen.
Still, the criminal probe was a matter of interest for Seldin, who noted in an Oct. 19 filing that “the court has concerns surrounding the potential for commingling of assets that allegedly may also be the subject of a criminal proceeding.” The judge also noted that a hearing would be necessary “to address the potential issue of commingling” and the Callens “will be given an opportunity to be heard.”
Alpine Bank’s receivership action claimed the Callens took out the loan to buy all of the corporate stock of Bomber. The Callens used as collateral 500 shares of Bomber stock, as well as company assets. Alpine’s suit also says that “becoming the subject of a civil/or criminal action … may materially affect defendants’ ability to pay the note.”
The suit adds that Bomber is no longer in business and that it is “unknown what defendants have done with Bomber’s inventory.”
Chapter 7 will allow Bomber to liquidate its assets, but its bankruptcy petition offers few specifics on its financial picture. The number of its creditors ranges between one and 49, with its liabilities listed between $100,001 and $500,000. Bomber’s assets are listed between zero dollars and $50,000.
The petition’s scant details caught the attention of the bankruptcy court, which has ordered Bomber to provide a statement of financial affairs and a summary of its assets and liabilities by Friday. The case is subject to dismissal if the proper documents are not filed, according to an Oct. 23 notice on file in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver, the venue for the case.
So far 51 parties to the case have been notified of Bomber’s bankruptcy, including European Catering and the Aspen 82 television station, which are both Aspen-based. Also notified were All Hours Self Storage in Basalt, as well as other businesses in Colorado and elsewhere.
A meeting of creditors is scheduled Dec. 8 at the meeting room for Mesa County commissioners in Grand Junction.
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.