The coal mogul who once controlled dozens of Blackjewel mines nationwide before being ousted by a bankruptcy judge could face an investigation into alleged fraud, court documents filed Thursday reveal.
Counsel for bankrupt coal company Blackjewel, along with the creditors owed money, asked a federal judge to allow lawyers to examine the finances of former CEO Jeff Hoops and his family, as part of a discovery process.
In other words, debtors and other creditors involved in Blackjewel's over-six-month bankruptcy saga want to investigate the company's former CEO for allegedly stealing tens of millions of dollars for personal gain, court documents reveal.
"By the time of their chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in July 2019, the Debtors (Blackjewel) were woefully insolvent," counsel for Blackjewel stated in court documents. "This level of insolvency and the inevitable bankruptcy filings were the result of a years-long effort by Mr. Hoops to transfer tens of millions of dollars of the Debtors’ assets for his benefit and the benefit of his family and other Hoops-Related Entities."
At the time of filing, Blackjewel owed about $146 million in unpaid taxes. And attorneys for the company would admit in court the company owed Wyoming workers over $700,000 in unpaid wages and $900,000 in retirement funds. Later, investigations would reveal the company owed workers even more.
A vast majority of former Blackjewel workers have yet to receive the full compensation they were promised, according to investigations by Wyoming’s Labor Standards Office. When it filed for bankruptcy, Blackjewel owed 506 workers hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and benefits. But nearly six months later, only 33 workers had filed a claim for compensation with the state.
Hoops told the Star-Tribune Friday he had been advised by his attorney not to comment.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia will hold a hearing at 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time on Jan. 22.