Eight months after the Gardiner-based Associated Grocers of Maine cooperative closed, vendors and a bank are squabbling over some $3.3 million while former employees say they have not received a penny of severance, vacation or any other benefit from their former employer.

Now, the $3.3 million is in the account of a court-appointed receiver, and Bank of Maine wants $2.3 million of that money now, according to court documents.

At least one vendor objects and has asked a judge to refuse to distribute the money to Bank of Maine.

Imperial Distributors Inc. says it is entitled to $100,000 of the fund and that claims of other vendors should be considered as well.

The case of Savings Bank of Maine versus Associated Grocers of Maine is being handled by Justice John Nivison through the state’s Business and Consumer Court out of Cumberland County Superior Court. It was formerly in Kennebec County Superior Court and a related case was briefly in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine.

“Imperial and its fellow central billing vendors — Oakhurst Dairy, Lepage Bakeries, Inc., Sure Winner Foods, Inc., and Michaud Distributors — have claims which, in the aggregate total approximately $700,000-$750,000,” states the motion filed by Roy T. Pierce and Holly R. Jones, attorneys for Imperial.

Imperial says it does not know how much money will be claimed by the receiver, who was appointed to wind up the business last May, or his lawyer.

Since May 2, the receiver has been paid $214,798 and the receiver’s attorney, $366,519, according to court filings.

“Although the ‘burn rate’ has slowed since October, the receivership has been a very expensive proposition thus far,” according to Imperial’s attorneys, adding that nothing shows a forecast of future expenses or income.

In a separate development in the same case, the judge granted a motion to intervene filed by attorney Joseph Goodman on behalf a group of owners of 53 independent grocery stores who were members of the Association Grocers of Maine cooperative.

Tim Boynton, of Gorham — a 35-year employee of Associated Grocers, who worked until Dec. 2 as a peer support worker for dislocated Associated Grocers of Maine workers — said they never received money they were entitled from the defunct business.

“We got nothing, no severance, not any accumulated vacation or sick time,” he said last week.

Boynton said of the 140 people who lost their jobs when the grocery distributor dissolved, some 90 people found either full-time or temporary employment, eight people retired, 10 to 12 went through a retraining program offered by the state through Augusta Adult Education and a dozen or so enrolled in colleges for training.

At an auction in early August, the 120 acres of property once owned by Associated Grocers of Maine was purchased at auction for $5 million by Camden National Bank, which held a $4.8 million mortgage on it.

About two weeks later, the bank sold the property to Pine State Trading Co. for an undisclosed amount.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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