A circuit judge has subpoenaed the records related to the failed effort to build a wind farm west of Springdale.
In August, Washington County Circuit Judge Cristi Beaumont demanded all records related to Dragonfly Industries International, Elite Energy and the purchase of 300 acres on the west end of Elm Springs.
The judge’s action comes in regard to a lawsuit filed in March by a contractor who contends he hasn’t been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and leases.
The lawsuit is one of several legal challenges encountered by participants in the proposed project since it was canceled early this year after sparking opposition in Elm Springs, a town of about 1,700 that would have been the wind farm’s home.
Joe Lyons and his construction company, Innovative Construction, claim they haven’t been paid for a $250,000 loan and $208,000 equipment lease they provided for the project in February 2015. The lawsuit names Springdale residents Cody Fell and Jeff Curbow and a company called Crossover Construction as defendants.
Fell sometimes represented Dragonfly, a Texas company, in its yearlong push to build dozens of wind turbines. He was employed by Crossover Construction as of at least May, according to a Benton County jail release report for Fell after an arrest regarding the state’s hot-check law. The charge was dropped in July, according to his arraignment document.
Elite Energy is Dragonfly’s Arkansas counterpart.
The lawsuit asks the court to award Lyons and his company all of the money he’s owed plus interest. Rick Woods, a Fayetteville attorney who represents Lyons, said roughly $100,000 has been repaid so far in the form of a credit line with Crossover Construction. The original contracts said the loan and lease would be paid entirely by August 2015.
“They never even asked for the equipment,” Woods said of the defendants.
Fell, Curbow and Crossover denied the claims in court filings and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, pointing to several legal principles as defenses. Curbow, for example, said the loans were impossible to repay because the project fell through after Elm Springs voters decided not to allow the project site to become part of the city, an event out of his control. He and Fell also said the loan wasn’t valid because the interest was twice as high as the maximum 17 percent allowed under Arkansas law.
The case file includes a letter Lyons sent to Fell in February 2015 that mentions the loan’s interest.
“I noticed on the loan agreement, when you prepared it, you calculated the interest on 12 months instead of 6 months,” Lyons wrote, offering a corrected, lower-priced agreement to take the original’s place. “Good luck with your venture,” Lyons added. “I’m excited to see the turbines.”
Curtis Hogue, who represents Fell, and J.R. Carroll, who represents Crossover, declined to comment further. Curbow’s attorney asked to be removed from the case and didn’t return a message Wednesday asking who represents Curbow now.
Jody Davis, Dragonfly’s CEO, pleaded guilty in federal court in Oklahoma seven years ago to embezzling about $785,000. He also was sentenced to probation at least twice in Arkansas courts, including once for writing a $10,000 check he couldn’t cover, a felony.
Fell pleaded guilty in 2004 to a misdemeanor violation of the hot-check law and has been involved in lawsuits regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid debt, according to court records in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Fell hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment over the past several months.
The Arkansas Securities Department on Aug. 11 ordered Davis to stop selling unregistered securities for the Dragonfly project. The department contends Davis misled three investors who together provided $120,000; failed to tell the three individuals about his past federal conviction for embezzlement; and also didn’t tell them his company hadn’t secured a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Securities Department said it believed that Davis was living in Florida, according to the order.
Cole Fegen, an attorney who represents Davis, responded to a request for comment after the order, but the response couldn’t be heard because it was sent as a text message to a landline phone. Fegen told a Northwest Arkansas television station that Davis denied the allegations and would ask for a hearing, which he can do within 30 days of the order. Fegen didn’t return a phone call Wednesday.
Ted Holder, senior attorney with the Securities Department, said Wednesday that he hadn’t received any word from Fegen requesting the hearing.