Business

Abbey Flooring & Design bankruptcy leaves dozens at a loss

Friday, July 12, 2013

A final decision in federal court is erasing more than $3 million in debts owed by a now-defunct Fresno business. And now, dozens of customers at Abbey Flooring & Design are left in the lurch.

The owners filed for bankruptcy last year -- the second time they've had a similar business and bankrupted it.

Sandra Meachum lives with a daily reminder of her unfinished business. Months after paying Abbey Flooring & Design to remodel her home, much of the work still isn't done. And now she knows she'll never get back any of $20,000 she invested.

Meachum is one of dozens of customers and sub-contractors who are out millions of dollars. But after the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filed by Abbey's owners -- Gary and Glennyce Cropper -- was approved this week, all their debts disappeared.

"It's a shame, just a shame," said one-time customer Walter Fieguth. "So many people have been hurt."

Fieguth considers himself one of the lucky ones. His $54,000 kitchen remodel was mostly finished before Abbey went belly-up. But he spent another $10,000 in legal fees fighting a lien from the sub-contractors who never got paid. Fieguth believes the Croppers were taking money from customers even after they knew the business failed.

"The same day they were packing up their things in the nighttime to clear out their inventory and leave without paying their rent to their landlord, they were calling my house to see if they could come and personally get a check for some of the things they installed," he said.

Knowing the Croppers have now bankrupted two flooring companies in the last 12 years, many customers -- and the Better Business Bureau -- are worried they'll just do it all over again.

"There's no deterrent for them to go out and start another company tomorrow at another address, under another name, with a different phone number doing the same thing," said Cindy Dudley, of the BBB. But the Croppers may not get away scot free.

The Contractors State License Board filed a complaint against them this week, accusing them of fraud. And the district attorney's office tells Action News it's still considering criminal charges as well.

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fresno, fresno county, business, corin hoggard
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