AUGUSTA — Two women who prepaid Pinkham’s Corner Fuel for heating fuel offered the company owner sympathy for losing his business.
Then, they asked David F. Pinkham when they could expect either their money back or some fuel now that the local company has declared bankruptcy. He didn’t respond.
Attorney Michael Haenn, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee, told the women that some creditors will receive between one cent and 100 cents on each dollar owed by Pinkham.
Haenn conducted a hearing Tuesday in a conference room at Rooster’s Banquets in the bankruptcy case of Pinkham, of South China, who was represented by attorney Richard Goldman.
“I understand people go through hard times,” said Linda Clarke of Augusta, after the hearing. “I hate to see him go through this, but my money is just as hard-earned as his is.”
The Pinkham hearing was among a number of other bankruptcy cases.
Haenn questioned Pinkham about assets, asking him to describe values and conditions of the eight vehicles parked at the fuel company office on Windsor Corner Road, ordering him to turn over a key to the padlock on a small hunting cabin Pinkham built on land he owns in Winn, and checking to see how many items of value remain.
Pinkham said about 60 propane tanks of 50 or 100 gallons remain at homes. Pinkham’s had leased them to the homeowners under the condition that the propane to fill them would come from Pinkham’s. Pinkham estimated he had $30,000 worth of products at those homes.
Pinkham said he was not working now, but expected to remain in the same type of work.
People who had prepaid for fuel oil from Pinkham Fuel Corner learned they were unlikely to get much if any compensation for money they prepaid for fuel.
Clarke said she bought fuel from Pinkham’s on a budget plan, and sent him a payment check Feb. 7.
“He knew at that point he was closing. Why did he cash it?” she asked. No one responded.
Linda Martin, of Vassalboro, also asked Pinkham why he cashed her check, which he received after he closed the business but before he filed for bankruptcy protection.
“We ran out of funds,” Pinkham told her directly. “We couldn’t operate any longer.”
Clarke said she didn’t expect to see any money returned to her. The abrupt closure of the company left her scrambling for an oil supplier.
Despite the experience with Pinkham’s, Clarke said she will opt for a budget plan again because she burns about 1,500 gallons of oil per year.
Pinkham said his South China home is on the market with an asking price of $129,900. The town assesses it at $183,000 for tax purposes, Pinkham said, adding that he owed $80,000 on it. He also said he hasn’t transferred property in the past year and that he set up two IRAs within the past year. He said he paid about $30,000 in 2006 for the Winn property.
“I’m sorry you’re going through this,” said Charlene Lastella, of Somerville, sitting next to Pinkham at a table.
Goldman told her the trustee will sell Pinkham’s property and distribute the assets.
Haenn said he needed more information, so the bankruptcy case remains pending.
Goldman said neither he nor Pinkham had any comment after the meeting.
The bankruptcy filing on April 4 shows the business’ gross income was on a downward trend from $846,500 in 2009, to $814,600 in 2010, $500,000 in 2011, and $70,000 for the first three months of 2012.
Betty Adams — 621-5631