NEW ORLEANS – A pair of Texas seafood processors owned by a man previously imprisoned for fraud are facing more than $3 million in Deepwater Horizon claims clawbacks after court officials said the firms were not in business at the time of the 2010 oil spill.
Alliance & Associates LLC and Crystal Seafood Company of Port Arthur, Texas, are accused in court documents of fraudulently receiving a $3.16 million damage claim from the BP settlement fund. The documents, filed by court special master Louis Freeh and settlement administrator Patrick Juneau, say the two companies had liquidated their businesses at the time the oil spill occurred.
"In fact, Alliance and Crystal ceased processing seafood at the facility no later than September 2009, when a different company began operating at the location," Freeh and Juneau's filing says. "All professionals who benefited from the unjustified payments similarly should be required to make restitution."
Faegre Baker Daniels of Minneapolis, who represented the companies in both claims, has already returned the $533,000 legal fee it received for handling the claims, the court filing says.
It also states that Alliance and Crystal were operated by the same man, Victor Tran, and went out of business after Tran was convicted of defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration for making false statements in order to receive rebuilding money in the wake of Hurricane Rita, which struck Texas in 2005.
The filing says Tran was actually in prison when Faegre Baker Daniels initially filed damage claims in connection with the BP oil spill.
The Alliance and Crystal clawback filing represents at least the fourth time that a Faegre Baker Daniels client has been accused of fraud in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Court records show the firm booked $792,032.21 in fees for handling claims that court officials have deemed fraudulent.
Faegre Baker Daniels was contacted for this story, but a representative said the law firm does not comment on pending litigation.