Troubled Puyallup contractor Thomas Weems is at the brink.
He filed for business and personal chapter seven bankruptcy after owing more than $1 million to his former customers. Now, in a 22-page document, the U.S. Trustee accuses Weems of defrauding creditors and falsifying documents in his filing.
“I did read it, and it was unbelievable,” said Hugh Lyon, one of Weems’ former customers. “Unbelievable, all the things that he’s done.”
Lyon paid Weems’ business, Elite Custom Homes and Construction, $67,000 for doing little or no work.
In its case, the government said Elite and the business Weems opened after filing for bankruptcy, Warrior Construction Services, paid for thousands of dollars in trips to Miami, Orlando and Minneapolis. Court documents show Weems spent thousands on fine dining.
That included $1,100 at Iron Chef in Puyallup. The same amount was spent at the Chophouse Steak restaurant in Minneapolis, as well as a whopping $4,400 spent at El Gaucho in Tacoma and Portland.
Weems also posted on his own Facebook page in the weeks before shutting down his business that he played golf at Donald Trump’s Doral Resort, where a single round can cost up to $500.
“I enjoy going to restaurants. I enjoy golf,” Lyon said. “I enjoy having my house finished. But these things aren’t happening because this guy took the money from us.”
Retired bankruptcy judge Karen Oversteet — who spent more than 20 years on the bench — offered her take on the case. She reviewed everything from the 341 hearing, which is a meeting of creditors to this most recent filing.
“The U.S. Trustee here has alleged not telling the truth on the schedules, not telling the truth at the 341 meeting. Hiding assets, transferring assets to other people,” Overstreet said. “So, to me, regarding this complaint, it certainly wasn’t a surprise.”
It’s alleged Weems withdrew $33,000 in cash from his personal bank account and placed it in a safe. He said it was for basic living expenses like food and gas.
That was on June 2. But Weems testified 28 days later that he had no cash on hand. The feds also said he paid his car note and mortgage with money that should have been headed to his creditors.
“Those corporate assets belong to corporate creditors, and now those corporate assets aren’t there for the corporate creditors,” Overstreet said. “So, yes, that’s a problem. And obviously, that’s why it comes through in the complaint.”
There’s more — in June, Weems began selling off items on Facebook, including a pickup truck.
We obtained a copy of Weems’ bankruptcy hearing. In it, he told the trustee that he sold the truck for $7,000 which he deposited into his personal bank account. But in the filing, the U.S. Trustee says Department of Licensing records do not indicate that Weems sold or transferred the truck, adding that he and his mother are the legal and registered owners of the vehicle.
This is all while Weems was about to start another construction business.
If the U.S. Trustee is successful, Weems’ assets will not be protected, and he’ll be open to civil suits from former customers like Tony Malcom.
“I feel like he stole from me and my family,” Malcom said.
Malcom said he lost more than $100,000 dealing with Weems’ business. The work on his Eatonville home is frozen. Malcom received a $32,000 lien from contractors he says Weems didn’t pay.
He’s not surprised by the recent accusations, but what he wants now is the financial ability to move on.
“When that information came to light, we felt betrayed. Just bamboozled and taken advantage of,” Malcom said. “And it has been very difficult to recover.”
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