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Bankruptcy by Olympus Pools owner could cut out hundreds of customers who lost money

I-team investigation into multi-million dollar bankruptcy
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Posted at 6:11 PM, Oct 14, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — When James Staten and his wife filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, missing on the list of creditors were the nearly 200 former Olympus Pool customers who claim they are owed money because of the failure of the Lutz-based company to finish the job and pay their subcontractors.

The customers are left off because the bankruptcy petitioners are Staten and his wife, not the company the couple owned.

The Staten’s bankruptcy attorney Joel Aresty said the Staten’s filed for personal bankruptcy protection because one of their largest creditors, an Olympus pools supplier — SCP Distributors — obtained a $1 million judgment against the couple in September. That judgment allowed SCP to get a garnishment and froze the money in the Statens’ personal bank account.

In court documents the Staten’s list $17,000 in monthly expenses including $2,000 for electricity, $10,000 for lawn care, and payments on three luxury vehicles. A bankruptcy judge this week approved an agreement between SCP Distributors and the Staten’s that will give the family a little under $11,000 a month to cover expenses for them and their five children.

The court ordered their attorney to provide more detail on the couple’s assets. James Staten this week listed his home for sale at $3.25 million dollars and the Olympus Pools building for $1.9 million. Aresty said that money will be used to pay creditors listed in the filing.

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Bankruptcy Attorney Richard McIntyre, who has no connection to this case, says Olympus Pools customers would need to file as creditors to secure any chance of getting a slice of the liquidated assets.

“If I was a homeowner I would strongly consider reaching out to the U.S. Trustee's Office and filing a claim in the bankruptcy case,” he said. If Olympus Pools customers don't act quickly, all of the money will go to the biggest creditors already listed in the filing, McIntyre said.

Customers who feel they have a claim can file as a creditor with the bankruptcy court.

But the Staten's attorney said there would be an objection to adding any homeowners as creditors because he said James Staten was not solely to blame for the company’s downfall.

In court papers, Staten blamed historic labor supply shortages, key employees, and the media for the company's collapse.

According to a document Staten filed with the court: “The CFO, accountants, and bookkeeper whose job it was to oversee the financial health of the business combined negligence with complacency....several sales members and their sales managers left to start their own company and companies. … [And] at the end of each news story, viewers were encouraged to complain to the DBPR and the Attorney General's office,”

Olympus customer Jackie Kalnins said leaving customers out of the bankruptcy is another slap in the face.

“He's not taking ownership, he's the owner, he should know what is happening,” Kalanins said.

Kalnins got a second job to pay another contractor to finish her pool. She wants the $25,000 she says he paid Olympus Pools for work they never did.

“There's money there that can be split up if they were to file that,” she said.

The Attorney General’s office this week filed a lawsuit against Staten and Olympus accusing the company of misrepresenting timelines of projects, failing to complete work, and pay subcontractors. Moody estimates the damage at more than 8-million-dollars and is seeking to recoup some of that money for customers.

RELATED:AG sues Olympus Pools over hundreds of unfinished jobs