IRS Bills Former Continental Trucking Executives, Not Owners

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 19, 2011 12:00 am  

The Internal Revenue Service has billed Ralph Bradbury, right, former president of Continental Express Inc., and the late Pete Campbell, former executive vice president, shown an a file photo from 2006.

At the end of October 2010, Ralph Bradbury received a bill from the Internal Revenue Service for more than $2.8 million in unpaid employment taxes tied to the defunct trucking company where he had been president, Continental Express Inc. of Little Rock.

A few days later, a similar bill arrived at the home of Pete Campbell, who had been Continental’s executive vice president. But Campbell had died on Oct. 28, so his widow received the bill on the day of her 55-year-old husband’s funeral.

Even though his tax bill has since been reduced to $800,000, Bradbury insists it’s not his bill to pay. Documents obtained by Arkansas Business indicate he is gearing up for a fight with Continental’s former owners, Ed and Bonnie Harvey, following in the footsteps of two banks that alleged the Harveys shifted assets to avoid paying financial obligations.

The Harveys and their financial adviser, Marvin Jones of Cabot, are responsible for the taxes, Bradbury claims in letters to the IRS.

Bradbury’s attorney, Randy Coleman of Little Rock, declined to comment for this story. Bradbury declined to be interviewed but agreed to provide a statement if it would be used in its entirety. (See Statement here.)

“Why the IRS would stop its collection efforts with Pete Campbell’s widow and me is a conundrum to all who observe this matter,” Bradbury said in the statement.

The IRS said it doesn’t comment on individual tax cases.

The question of who owes the money will hinge on who the IRS determines was the “responsible person” with regard to payroll taxes for the period that ended Sept. 30, 2008. 

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Bradbury maintains that in preparation for selling the trucking company later that year, the Harveys — particularly Bonnie Harvey as proxy for her ailing husband — had turned the financial decisions over to Jones.

“Mrs. Bonnie Harvey and Mr. Marvin Jones should be the persons held accountable,” Coleman wrote in a June 27 letter to the IRS Appeals Office. “We are sure it can and will be shown that they diverted monies that were promised and legally should have been made available to the IRS for the proper settlement of these taxes. This is very easily shown.”

Emails dating to late 2008 indicate that Jones and the Harveys’ lawyer both acknowledged Continental’s tax obligations. But in an interview with Arkansas Business last week, Jones said neither he nor Bonnie Harvey had been contacted by the IRS. He denied that he owed the money.



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