Despite Name, Arkansas Casino Corp. Operator Closely Tied to Texas, Idaho

by Michael Whiteley and Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

Buchholz, who lives in a 1 1/2-story brick house appraised at $272,000, said he hopes he won’t have to write off the money.

“But I’ve invested heavily in cases before and had to walk away from them,” he said. “It’s just kind of the risk. I felt that I had to do it because I made the commitment that I’d get the signatures and I’d get it on the ballot.”

Buchholz said his work with the company is done for now. If the amendment passes, he hopes the resulting legal work and return on his stake in the company will pay off in spades.

But a Mason-Dixon poll released by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week showed 37 percent of 627 registered voters favored the amendment, 51 percent opposed it and 12 percent were undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The Legacy of Lost Bean Lode

About six years ago, Buchholz’ telephone installer introduced him to Harris, whose ATAP Financial Corp. was doing business about five miles from Buchholz’ law office in north Dallas.

At the time, Harris was the chairman of North Star Inc., a company that was then involved in marketing software. North Star has gone through as many changes as a chameleon walking across a multi-colored quilt.

In March 1899, John B. Hanson, W.W. Woods and several other partners chartered North Star Mining Co. in an attempt to mine the Anna Lode and the Lost Bean Lode along the East Fork of the St. Joe River in the forests of northern Idaho.

Eighty-four years later, the copper and silver company, which had been operating sporadically, became North Star Inc., under the control of Utah businessmen Steven G. Pappas and R.A. Miflin.

A decade later, Harris took over the troubled North Star and changed its name to Paragon Classic Inc. Although its interest were centered in Dallas and Little Rock, the company’s paperwork would remain in Boise.

Litigation regarding the software company in Dallas and Tennessee resulted in the company filing for bankruptcy in 1996, Buchholz said. One of the members of the board of directors, R. Frank Sylves of Memphis, was listed as the only plaintiff.

“That was when they decided to emerge from bankruptcy with the dismissal and reorganize and turn it over to theses folks in Arkansas, so they can do their [casino] initiative,” said Buchholz, who also handled the bankruptcy case.



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