July 22–May marked a year since the Odessa-based oilfield trucking company SanJan abruptly shuttered, and while about 150 former employees continue to wait for their final paychecks, things have only continued to unravel for the failed company’s top executive, Clint Fletcher.
Lenders are circling the former CEO. Multiple lawsuits accuse him of fraud. His $1.1 million home is on the market, he’s in the midst of a divorce and he says he’s “basically dried up any cash that I had,” struggling to pay legal fees and personal debts.
Fletcher had gone on camera in May 2017, after the collapse, and accused another top executive of embezzlement that left the company “in shambles,” triggering a chain of events that led to workers shut out of company yards and stiffed on their paychecks. That executive, Blake Reynolds, has denied the allegations and filed a defamation lawsuit against Fletcher pending in Midland.
Fletcher’s own biological father is also suing him, accusing his son of impersonating him in a scheme to take money from a bank account.
Fletcher denied allegations of fraud and other wrongdoing, commenting in a series of interviews with Odessa American — his first since the company’s collapse.
In an evolving account of the series of events that led to the company’s failure and his present legal troubles, Fletcher said he accepted “some responsibility” for the failure of SanJan and the hardship it left in its wake. But he also blamed other people for his predicament, including his biological father, with whom he says he is estranged but maintains a financial relationship, and the executive he accused of embezzlement.
SanJan had about 400 workers and six field locations, according to the company at the time of the collapse.
Fletcher struggled to explain why he didn’t face the employees once news broke of the company’s collapse.
“I never dealt with payroll,” Fletcher said. “I never dealt with the employees. That wasn’t in my job and in my duties.”
He offered different explanations for why workers went unpaid while he says he was pumping money into the company. He blamed computer trouble, the rapid downsizing of administrative staff, labor law technicalities, and his own depleting resources.
“I’m very empathetic with those guys, because with the money that they lost, they should be very upset and angry with management and hurt, financially distraught,” Fletcher said. “But to be quite honest with you I feel the same with some of the management partners because nobody’s out the amount of the money that I am on the deal.”
But Dwayne Kellams said he had counted on that $6,600 paycheck he earned as a truck driver for SanJan.
“I worked hard for that money and didn’t get paid, and I mean hustled,” Kellams said, figuring the company had revenue coming in for the work people like him did and should have been able to pay.
Truckers are in demand, and Kellams found other work. But he says he doubts he will ever see the money from SanJan.
“What is a lawyer going to do for you? I mean the doors are closed,” Kellams said. “They got paid for their tickets and they bailed. They said screw everybody. That’s what went down.”
149 WORKERS AWAIT PAY
In the weeks after it closed, workers such as Kellams told stories about scrounging for money after being kicked out of SanJan yards without pay and about trying and failing to reach Fletcher. The owner of a small trucking business who said she was owed $40,000 by SanJan recounted leaving messages for Fletcher, sending him letters and repeatedly trying to catch him in person — to no avail.
Today, the Texas Workforce Commission reported 149 workers have outstanding wage claims against SanJan, filed in 2016 and 2017. The total amount due is more than $557,000, with about $118,000 in additional penalties also due.
But Fletcher said any payment would likely come from a lien placed by the Workforce Commission against SanJan’s assets, which he expects to be liquidated.
“Your intention is to get everybody paid and you do everything you can to do that because you feel terrible for people,” Fletcher said. “But as of right now as far as my cash position, I don’t have any cash.”
It suggests a remarkable fall since the years when Fletcher says SanJan was a growing company. He said he’s sold off “70 to 80 percent” of his assets to pay SanJan’s debt after he “pumped millions of dollars into SanJan.”
In a 2013 interview with the Odessa American, Fletcher touted 14 business he had founded, managing mineral rights, renting out oilfield equipment like pressure washers, constructing well pads and so forth. He owned a lake house that he says is now the subject of lien by a business partner. He bought a stake in Proof, marketed as an upscale bar off Highway 191.
And Fletcher said the business he co-owns with his stepfather, White House Meat Market, was thriving with a second location. In the 2013 interview, Fletcher discussed goals to branch out the meat market to other cities in the next five years or so. Today, Fletcher said he owns only a small stake in the meat market, and the business, he says “It’s 100 percent secure.”
INVESTOR CRIES FOUL
At SanJan, a lawsuit filed by a Wink-based investor in the company, Calvin Baker, alleges the problems stretched back years before the collapse.
Baker’s suit alleges that Fletcher approached him October of 2014. Fletcher had founded the company in 2005, but sold it in 2011. Records show it was 2014 when Fletcher said he re-bought SanJan through an investment company formed for that purpose with partners including investors in Dallas.
Baker said in court documents that Fletcher made “false representations” about SanJan, “its operations, and its financial viability, including presenting misleading documents of the value” that Baker claims led him to invest $1 million “in a failing company.” The suit, filed in June, describes a “fraudulent scheme and intent to defraud” Baker.
Baker’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment and attempts to reach Baker through an associate were unsuccessful.
In May 2017, just after the company collapsed, Baker’s suit states Fletcher again misled him into participating in loans that ultimately left him out more than $1.6 million.
Fletcher responded to the lawsuit with a blanket denial. In an interview, Fletcher declined to elaborate about the case but said “Calvin and I are trying to work together on that one” toward a resolution.
Around that time, in summer 2017, Fletcher said he sought an injection of cash into the company, after pouring in millions himself, so that SanJan could keep servicing its debt. He said he was paying the company’s creditors out of his own pocket.
“The strategy at that time period was to sell anything that I had access to that I could sell to get some quicker cash to do some things,” Fletcher said. “And then you realize, you’ve got fully good intentions in terms of hey I’m going to pay everybody I possibly can, but basically you just go broke and you run through money quicker than you would have ever dreamed.”
But his biological father, Jim Fletcher, alleges another scam by his son that summer.
FATHER ALLEGES THEFT
In July 2017, Jim Fletcher says in court documents that he was spending the summer in Ruidoso when he received a call from his son. Clint Fletcher made a startling claim, the lawsuit states: An ex-wife of his father was going to file charges “for some type of sexual misconduct unless she received $800,000” from them.
But Jim Fletcher, who viewed the purported allegations as “false and slanderous,” would not pay — even after a man claiming to be a detective named “Brian Hopkins” called in August to discuss “what he believed was proof” that the accusations were true, according to the lawsuit filed in May.
The lawsuit states Jim Fletcher called the “detective” back only to discover “a false number as well as a false name.”
Jim Fletcher soon learned $854,000 was missing from his account at Edward Jones Trust Company, the lawsuit states. The asset management company is also named in the suit and has denied wrongdoing in court.
Jim Fletcher’s suit then states he called a branch of the company in Odessa about the money missing from his account.
“That wasn’t you?” the suit quotes an Edward Jones employee as saying, and, when Jim Fletcher said it wasn’t, replied “Well, come to think of it, it didn’t sound like you.”
The lawsuit states it was Clint Fletcher, claiming he told his father that he pretended to be him to make the payoff. The suit accuses Clint Fletcher of “wrongfully obtaining the money by false pretense and theft.”
Clint Fletcher denies it.
“My dad and I are not close at all — I mean not one bit,” Fletcher said. “So that story with him is a complete and utter fabrication. There is no truth to that whatsoever.”
Clint Fletcher said later that he did get the money, but that his father, who he is partners with in an oil and gas company through inheritance, gave it to him willingly and said it was “‘to help you out, you’ve had a rough year’.”
“It was a gift,” Clint Fletcher said. “He just called me and said I know you have had some difficulties.”
JUDGE: ‘LIKELIHOOD” OF SUCCESS IN BEXAR FRAUD CASE
Another case, this one out of Bexar County, resulted in an order by a district court judge stating evidence and sworn affidavits showed a “likelihood of success” for a lender suing Clint Fletcher on claims of fraud, along with others allegedly involved. Attorneys for the San-Antonio based businessman, Leif Zars, did not respond to a request for comment about the pending case.
Court documents state Fletcher and a business partner approached Zars months after SanJan went out of business seeking a loan for the purpose of buying equipment. In January, Zars transferred the money into Fletcher’s account and then sued months later once Fletcher defaulted, per court records. The judge also pointed to a series of false representations in connection with the loan, issuing a temporary order that restricted the defendants’ bank accounts in May.
Fletcher said he denied fraud and that the case had “not a thing to do with SanJan.” He declined further comment “because I’ve already exercised my Fifth Amendment rights” and because the suit is pending.
Other Fletcher businesses have struggled, court documents show. Community National Bank named two of them in a case against Fletcher and a business partner. It accuses them of taking out multiple loans for various purposes such as purchasing oilfield services equipment between August 2015 and April 2018.
A vice president of the bank, Alan Kaup, stated in a sworn affidavit that the companies bought equipment in part for “the purpose of selling and/or leasing oilfield equipment” to SanJan.
Fletcher said the companies “are not in any form or fashion” related to SanJan and “there’s no financial entanglement whatsoever.” But Fletcher said the companies served SanJan clients, providing equipment like pressure washers and light towers.
In March, the bank says the defendants began to default on payments, and seeks in the lawsuit access to various equipment used as collateral to secure the loans, citing risk the bank would not be repaid the more than $2.8 million that the defendants still owed. The bank’ suit mentions that Fletcher “appears to have founded a tangle” of at least two dozen businesses.
“Mired by evidence of fraud, embezzlement and other misconduct by Fletcher and his top-level executives, these once-profitable businesses are now unable to pay their debts,” attorneys representing one of his lenders, Community National Bank, wrote in a lawsuit, filed June 27 in Midland.
In multiple interviews, Fletcher minimized his role as CEO in the governance of the company, saying lower level executives, including the man he accused of embezzlement, essentially ran the company.
“I was basically the local boy with the contacts and reputation but I was more of a de facto CEO,” Fletcher said. “My primary target was basically sales.”
Investors, Fletcher says, wanted it that way. He repeatedly emphasized what he said was an ownership stake of 30 percent of the company, suggesting creditors should look to other active investors in addition to him.
“I will take some responsibility, I won’t take 100 percent of it,” Fletcher said. “But as big as we got, I’ve got to trust eyeballs to tell me where we are lacking in certain areas and also where we are excelling in certain areas too. And to be quite honest, with me driving sales and all that, I definitely put too much weight on my shoulders.”
Fletcher said that “probably in hindsight we grew too far too fast,” adding that “at the height of what we were doing sales wise, our revenue was $1.8 million a week” with 400 employees. He declined to provide financial records substantiating that or a list of investors, citing advice from lawyers and pending litigation.
Fletcher canceled a planned meeting with the Odessa American, where he said he would produce records supporting elements of his account.
He said he had been in East Texas during the week, brokering a deal “looking at some properties and stuff, oil and gas properties. Whatever we can buy and sell.”
“The only thing that I’m trying to do is just to broker a deal, just to be a middle man,” Fletcher said. “But I don’t have the money to do anything. There’s still some properties that I’m trying to sell.”
(c)2018 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)
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