A proposed receivership on assets belonging to Temple Mayor Bill Jones was again the issue today as Bell County 169th Judicial District Court Judge Gordon Adams heard arguments from attorneys representing the case’s three parties: Jones, Jencer Investments, Inc. and April Jones. An application of turnover relief and appointment of a receiver to satisfy a nearly $500,000 judgment owed by Jones to Jencer Investments seeks to satisfy the debt by taking possession of or selling Jones’ property which includes Materials Transportation Company (MTC) stock shares along with all financial accounts held by a third party and other assorted assets, including those belonging to his BJ3 Industries, Inc.
At this time, it appears Jones’ MTC stock is his only asset seen as potentially being able to satisfy the judgment yet at least a portion of this stock is also sought by April Jones in a pending divorce action which after 35 years of marriage and with citing “adultery” as its cause, could entitle her to more than half of her husband’s assets. An additional complication comes with the divorce proceeding revealing that Jones owes MTC at least $1.2 million resulting from two separate $500,000 loans, one from 2004 and another from “a year and a half to two years later.” Another $50,000 loan took place in May 2011. The second $500,000 loan and the $50,000 loan were reportedly executed without documentation.
Jones is the former president and CEO of the employee-owned MTC. Recent receivership and divorce hearings focused on Jones personal use of company resources. Characterizing Jones using MTC as his personal “piggy back” became a recurring theme with both April Jones’ attorney Carol Prater and Jencer attorneys Aubrey Williams and Mickey Wade. In early April, Bill Jones was released from his employment with MTC.
Adams began today’s hearing asking for arguments as to why he shouldn’t grant the receivership. Carol Prater first expressed concerns that assets belonging to her client, April Jones, would become entangled in any receivership. In addition to the receivership potentially impeding April Jones’ ability to defend herself in the divorce proceeding, Prater questioned how this receivership gives control that affects the rights of other parties who are not party to this lawsuit.
Prater suggested a marshalling of assets and then determining in what order property could be sold. As BJ3 Industries, Inc. is the entity for which the Jencer debt was incurred, she asked why wouldn’t any BJ3 property be sold first. Reiterating that she has a client who “still works for MTC, she makes a good salary and this is all she has left after her husband has been fired and run off with somebody else,” Prater said she doesn’t want collection efforts on this judgment to jeopardize April Jones’ employment.
Jack Jones, Bill Jones’ attorney and candidate for the 146th Judicial District Court, also voiced concern about the broad details of the receivership order. He argued that the Jones’ MTC ESOP stock is legally in the possession of MTC and that sale of non-ESOP stock was not likely a practical move. Regarding a Jones-owned building at 1215 Industrial Blvd. in Temple, he said the property is already secured by three previous liens which exceed the property’s value.
Jack Jones said that if the court were to appoint a receiver, it should be someone local, not the Dallas-based receiver currently proposed. In closing, he said the order should not be granted, but if it is, it should be limited.
Jencer attorney Aubrey Williams spoke in support of the receivership applications. He asked that a receiver be appointed to independently determine if this judgment is collectible and what assets might be collected. While Jencer attorneys have brought the court orders offering two distinct approaches, Williams said the other side has only offered “scattered-shot criticism.”
Williams warned that the judgment could perhaps be collected now, but that opportunity could diminish “as time goes on with Bill Jones having no impediment to liquidate assets.” At some point, rather than people saying it won’t work, his client is entitled to have a receiver explore what alternatives exist. While Carol Prater argues a receivership is an impediment to the divorce action, Williams countered that it helps the divorce case by both keeping Bill Jones from “squandering assets” and by helping to identify what assets can be divided.
Per Williams, a divorce court has no power to disturb the rights of a creditor. The primary purpose of the receivership order is to identify existing property and then make application to the court for additional action including property transfers or even the receiver’s own compensation. The receivership would allow what previously hasn’t happened which is to make Bill Jones “bring to the table assets that can be divided.”
After arguments, Adams said he was “still in same shape as when I came in” in that he doesn’t understand how a denial of the application is not beneficial to April Jones. Williams, Adams said, was on target upon saying that “if all else fails, the receivership brings everything to a head.” Pending review of several related court cases, Adams said a ruling would be forthcoming – perhaps as early as Monday.
Meanwhile, Bill Jones’ role as Temple’s mayor is increasingly coming into question as his professional and personal issues remain unresolved. From today’s Temple Daily Telegram Letters to the Editor section:
I have to say seeing the Temple mayor’s personal transgressions on the front page of the newspaper raises my concern of how well the city of Temple is being run under his tenure.
But regarding the wellbeing of our city and dignity and honor of the mayor’s office, please do the right thing so that our local government can move forward — please step down.
R.D. Flippo Jr.
Integrity, credibility and judgment. These attributes impact not just people, but also institutions, organizations even communities. Today’s hearing and letter remind that Bill Jones’ plight has become about far more than Bill Jones.
DISCLOSURE: Lou Ann Anderson was employed from 2004 – 2009 by Materials Transportation Company as producer of The Lynn Woolley Show, a business interest at that time financed through Capitol Media Group, a then-subsidiary of Materials Transportation Company.
Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com, a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas and a Director of Women on the Wall. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.