By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
A North Carolina investor wants its $365,000 returned from a controversial biodiesel manufacturer, a new legal action in Monroe County shows.
But one of the fuel company’s executives says people want them to fail so they can take over the company.
“Somebody is trying to get this company away from us,” said Kenneth M. “Mike” Cook of Madison, president of Mississippi Investment Petroleum Co., known as MIPCO.
In January, MIPCO announced plans to build a biodiesel refinery at the Port of Aberdeen. It ran into problems there and moved its permits to Houston, where Cook says the company has made fuel, only to be faced with eviction because it didn’t pay the December rent.
Now comes the legal problem.
Process Technologies & Services LLC of Charlotte, N.C., through Jackson attorney Kathryn Hester, filed a complaint Dec. 23, demanding a return of the money it invested in MIPCO between March and October.
PT&S sued MIPCO and its chief executive officer, Jon Lunsford of Georgia, and Cook as officers and individuals.
“This case arises from the fraudulent offer and sale of securities,” the complaint reads.
PT&S claims Lunsford and Cook said they owned the $1.2 million equipment ready for building an Aberdeen refinery, and they made false statements to PT&S about their ability to make the project work.
Cook blamed a lot of MIPCO’s troubles on Tommy Tacker of Aberdeen, whom MIPCO hired to build its plant there.
“He’s taken $343,000 and he’s done nothing but set everybody against us,” Cook complained. He also accused Tacker of helping PT&S and others “sabotage” MIPCO’s efforts to establish successful biodiesel refining in Northeast Mississippi.
Tacker faces federal charges associated with an alleged scheme to bilk the U.S. Department of Agriculture out of $2.3 million in biofuels subsidies at a now-defunct plant he built in Nettleton. Trial is set for February.
A call to Tacker’s cell phone Wednesday was answered by a recording that said the mailbox was full.
MIPCO was established in 2009 by Lunsford and Cook. PT&S, founded in 2005, reportedly sells pre-owned equipment with offices in the U.S. and abroad.
Calls for comment to PT&S’ CEO, Petrus “Pierre” H. Van Dongen, were not returned.
But the company’s legal complaint says that if PT&S had not been misled by the investment agreements signed with MIPCO and by what it was told, it would not have bought the securities, or at least not at the price offered by Lunsford.
It also claims the equipment MIPCO said was for Aberdeen actually was the subject of a federal repossession from a previous biofuels facility in Okolona.
The PT&S action in Monroe County is followup to a Dec. 4 letter to Lunsford and Cook, formally demanding they give back the investment.
PT&S also wants reasonable attorneys fees, plus 8 percent annual interest from the date of the investments.
“We’re trying to work out a settlement with PT&S to buy them out,” Cook said, noting MIPCO has lawsuit plans of its own.
He said trying to get the biodiesel company going has been a personal nightmare, noting he has responsibilities to other investors: “I would have walked away from it, but I can’t do that with other people’s money.”
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or email@example.com.
What about Houston?
Sen. Jack Gordon of Okolona said Wednesday he hasn’t heard a word from MIPCO about paying back rent on his Houston facility, where the company reportedly has made biofuels.
Recently, Gordon said he’ll seek MIPCO’s eviction during a Jan. 7 hearing in Chickasaw County Justice Court.
However, MIPCO executive Mike Cook said Wednesday he’s wiring Gordon’s $10,000 check today, which he hopes will avert the eviction.
The Houston facility is idle because the staff is off for the holidays, he said, adding he expects work to resume Jan. 4.