GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. " Because Fruita pipeline company IXP, owned by Carl France, failed to pay state payroll taxes for the past 14 months, the state Department of Revenue last week seized its trucks, bulldozers and office equipment.
IXP's corporate Cessna 340 was also taken.
The seizure was conducted by state revenue employees, accompanied by armed troopers with the Colorado State Patrol.
The Cessna and other vehicles will be auctioned to raise the $138,852 the company owes. The auction will take place at 9 a.m., Jan. 7 at Girardi's Towing.
Last week's seizures follow several months of legal problems involving bill collecting from IXP and from France.
The cases range from small claims court lawsuits in Mesa County to U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
Several former employees have filed in small claims court in Mesa County for wages they claim France did not pay them. The Mesa County District Court has two civil cases against the pipeline construction company, also for nonpayment.
So far, the claims against the company, which does business in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, have topped $16 million.
Former employees last week spoke of a chaotic work environment that included firearms training for employees at the request of France.
One said France received death threats because he allegedly didn't pay his bills.
Another employee who did not want to be named said France hired women he met at strip clubs, and "we would have to answer to the adult entertainment he brought on board," the employee said.
Blu Gray, the owner of the hangar where IXP's 1979 Cessna 340 had been stored, took the airplane out of the hangar last week because France hadn't paid the $1,500 monthly bill, Gray said.
"I went down there to try to get paid. A big old security guard said he's busy and threw me out the door," Gray said laughing.
Gray said IXP's Cessna 340 may be worth $250,000 to $300,000.
Gray also said the firm's pilot quit working for IXP because he, too, wasn't getting paid.
In U.S. District Court in Utah, Three Rivers Gathering LLC filed suit against IXP. Three Rivers claimed IXP failed to complete a pipeline project as IXP agreed, and that will cost Three Rivers $10 million. Three Rivers also cited additional damage of $1.5 million. The suit asks for that amount, attorney fees and any damages Three Rivers is responsible for as a result of IXP's not completing the job, according to the lawsuit.
Three Rivers also sued IXP's insurance company.
In another lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Utah, Mazuma Capital is suing IXP for $2.3 million plus interest for a lease agreement after the company claimed IXP failed to return equipment owned by Mazuma.
In U.S. District Court in Wyoming, Gabe's Construction sued IXP for $189,980 for work done in Vernal, Utah, for which it also claimed it was not paid.
A federal tax lien of more than $2.7 million has been filed with the Mesa County Clerk's Office.
Louisiana-based company Dynasty Transportation claims IXP owes $62,150.
Reach Marija B. Vader at firstname.lastname@example.org.