Fruita firm’s disappearing act leaves creditors empty-handed

IXP Inc., a pipeline construction company formerly based in Fruita and riddled with debt, has literally fallen off the map.

Its Fruita office shuttered and its Colorado and Wyoming telephone numbers non-responsive, the firm’s creditors have been left literally with no one to bill.

Linda Otten, a collections officer with Chesterfield Financial Corp., said her company leased IXP two furnaces in January 2008 on a “12 months same as cash deal.”

When her company dialed IXP in January to collect the $20,000 it was owed, she came up empty-handed.

“We’re just trying to get a lead on where they may be,” she said. “I can’t get a handle on where they are.”

Otten said she has been equally unsuccessful trying to reach IXP’s owners, Carl and Jamie France.

The phone numbers of IXP’s offices in Fruita and Cora, Wyo., were not functioning last week.

IXP’s operations began to unravel last year after a series of the pipeline company’s subcontractors filed lawsuits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, claiming more than $2.6 million in unpaid bills.

Three Rivers Gathering, a joint venture of the Ute Indian Tribe and Questar Gas Management, sued IXP in federal court in Utah, claiming the company had failed to complete a $10 million project in northeastern Utah.

Federal tax liens lodged against IXP throughout 2008 and filed with the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office show the company owes more than $5.9 million in payroll and heavy trucking taxes from 2007 and 2008.

The Frances, according to another lien filed with the county, owe the federal government more than $85,000 in income taxes from 2006.

The Colorado Department of Revenue also briefly seized the firm’s Cessna 340 airplane after IXP failed to pay $138,852 in payroll taxes.

Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said an auction had been scheduled, but one of IXP’s creditors paid the debt.

The company also has failed to file any paperwork in response to the civil lawsuits pending against it.

A December order from Mesa County District Court Judge David Bottger said Carl France and his company never responded to a lawsuit that a Delaware-based firm filed against IXP, claiming more than $50,000 in unpaid debt.

Otten said she and other creditors in her position will try to find IXP, but the outlook is not good.

“Carl and Jamie France have left a trail of bad debt across three states,” Otten said. “The more I learn about them, the less I like them.”


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