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Published: Wednesday, 3/23/2005

Toledo: River East files suit over debt

BY KARAMAGI RUJUMBA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The River East Economic Revitalization Corp. is suing Biological Environmental Control Laboratories, an East Toledo company, for $44, 587.

In a complaint filed on Feb. 15 in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court, River East claims that the environmental control company agreed to repay the money when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1996.

BEC Labs Inc., which conducts environmental testing and supplies medical kits out of its headquarters at 705 Front St. - space that the company leases from River East - initially filed bankruptcy in the U.S. District Court in Toledo for protection from its creditors because of the loss of a major customer that had broken its contract with the company.

"On or about July 30, 1998, Defendant BEC Labs agreed to pay plaintiff the sum of $44,587 under a Plan of Reorganization submitted and approved by the Northern District of Ohio Bankruptcy Court, and memorialized pursuant to a Non-negotiable Promissory Note," states a paragraph of the lawsuit, which outlines a litany of alleged agreements between River East and the environmental control company.

Richard Scheich, the attorney for River East Economic Revitalization Corp., did not return several phone calls and was said to be unavailable for comment.

After filing for protection from its creditors, BEC Labs Inc., stayed in business. James Kulas, the company's president at the time said that the company's business was fine and that it would continue operating in the area.

Perrysburg city councilman John Kevern, a former president of the environmental control company, who is also named in the suit, said "this is about a bankruptcy debt from sometime ago that has not yet been paid back."

Now a chairman of the Perrysburg City Council's economic development committee, Mr. Kevern noted that there is no "contention" about the fact that BEC Labs Inc., owes money to River East.

"Some sort of repayment plan will have to be put together," he said.

Toledo City Councilman Bob McCloskey - who represents District 3 that includes East Toledo and Old South Toledo - said he was disappointed to see BEC Labs Inc., struggle financially. It was a company touted by many people, including former Ohio Gov. George Voinovich, as the first company in what was expected to be a growing hi-tech industry in East Toledo.

"The problem is that the company had a series of people who were not qualified to run it," said Mr. McCloskey.

River East has "done its best to try and keep the company in business because they don't want to lose that many jobs in East Toledo," he said.

Grant Wilkerson, president of the environmental control company, could not be reached for comment. John Hilbert, who is listed as the attorney for BEC Labs, Inc., refused comment.

"I used to represent them," he said. "But, I have not represented them in years."

Contact Karamagi Rujumba at:

krujumba@theblade.com or

419-724-6064.



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