Lawsuits, Foreclosures Dog Investor John Lewis as Debts Pile Up

The Rock Plaza office building in Little Rock was once among the shared investments of John Lewis and Walter Quinn.
The Rock Plaza office building in Little Rock was once among the shared investments of John Lewis and Walter Quinn. (George Waldon)
Walter Quinn’s Riverview Point home is headed toward a foreclosure auction in the wake of his diminished oil and gas wealth.
Walter Quinn’s Riverview Point home is headed toward a foreclosure auction in the wake of his diminished oil and gas wealth.

Little Rock businessman John Taylor Lewis is no stranger to debt collection lawsuits and bankruptcy court thanks to the collapse of his Ram Venture Holdings effort in 2005-06.

After resurrecting his financial fortunes through oil and gas investments, Lewis once again is attracting debt-driven legal action associated with upwards of $6 million in claims.

Locally, Raymond Remmel, Wesley Clark and Walter Quinn are part of a collection party that includes the taxman and Texas interests. His leveraged oil and gas holdings, dependent on higher market prices, are said to be the biggest problem.

Kim Lewis finds herself among this growing cast of creditors in search of money from her ex-husband.

Court filings indicate John Lewis is delinquent on $1.3 million owed in the 2012 property settlement from the divorce. Another $1.5 million, the last installment on the $3.5 million property settlement payout, comes due in November.

“Now, he’s not even honoring his monthly alimony payments,” Kim Lewis said. “I have no choice but to go after him in court, and I’m watching all these other suits, too.” The couple’s divorce was finalized five years ago, but the case has remained active as she has battled to enforce its financial terms.

For the third time, Kim Lewis is asking that delinquent property settlement payments be brought current. She also asks that John Lewis be found guilty of criminal contempt of court with the possibility of imprisonment.

According to court filings, he was found in contempt of court in 2015 and 2016 for failing to honor the terms of the property settlement.

In addition to divorce court issues, Lewis has federal tax problems hanging over him. A 2015 audit by the Internal Revenue Service produced a $1.7 million lien for 2013-14 taxes. The lien is attached to his prized possession: a one-third stake in the 300-acre Quacker Jack Hunting Club, about 5 miles southwest of Stuttgart.

Despite his inability to make good on his financial obligations in divorce court and elsewhere, Lewis was able to repurchase ownership in Quacker Jack in a transaction valued at $1.3 million in July 2015.

“He’s in default on the property settlement to me,” Kim Lewis said. “He’s trying to dispose of the duck club. That’s an issue, and I’ll have to take that before the judge.” A court order, in place since 2016 after John Lewis was found in willful contempt of court, prevents him from selling or mortgaging his interest in Quacker Jack or any other asset without judicial approval.

Smoke Dog LLC, led by Steve Creekmore of Fort Smith, claims a security interest in the hunting club tied to a $1.4 million loan currently in default. That debt predates the court order and IRS lien as does the 2015 sale and repurchase of the club by John Lewis.

If Smoke Dog successfully foreclosed on Lewis’ duck club mortgage, that would wash the property free from the IRS tax lien as well as a $460,000 second mortgage held by his ex-wife reflecting delinquent money owed on the property settlement.

“There’s a lot of shenanigans going on with that whole thing,” Kim Lewis said. “Here we are again. He sold the hunting club, bought it back, but he can’t pay for it. He will do anything to hold onto it.”

Other Litigation
Walter Quinn’s RX Finance LLC sued John Lewis in November to collect $1.3 million allegedly owed on a loan to Rock Exploration, a Quinn-Lewis venture. According to the lawsuit, the debt represents money guaranteed by Lewis on the 2011 loan.

The former friends and business associates shared a leveraged lifestyle that now has creditors knocking on their doors. Both Quinn and Lewis are dealing with foreclosure suits that threaten their Little Rock homes.

Quinn’s Riverview Point mansion is days away from a foreclosure auction after combined judgments of $7.5 million were awarded on Jan. 2 to a pair of lenders with security claims on the residence.

First in line is Malvern National Bank with a $1.3 million judgment. The $6.2 million judgment in favor of Prosperity Bank of El Campo, Texas, re-flects the ballooning of a 2015 consent judgment of $4.9 million from Tulsa’s federal court.

Lewis, meanwhile, steered his JKL Investment Partners LLC into Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Dec. 11, following a foreclosure action linked with his Round River home. JKL lists assets of $274,000 and liabilities of $241,208. According to the bankruptcy filing, Community State Bank of Bradley holds a $234,419 first mortgage claim on the residence.

The JKL bankruptcy trailed a $197,000 foreclosure action initiated by the bank in November 2016. After winding its way through Pulaski County Circuit Court for the better part of a year, Community State dismissed the case and launched a non-judicial foreclosure action in connection with the loan that originally totaled $215,000 in 2011.

Lewis creditors linked with his failed Ram Venture Holdings have stepped up pursuit of $556,085 owed on loans that he unsuccessfully tried to shed in his 2005 Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Rebsamen Investments Ltd., led by Raymond Remmel, and River Investments LLC, led by Wesley Clark, were allowed to maintain financial claims against Lewis because he misrepresented his financial condition in order to obtain the loans.

Collection efforts indicate they believe Lewis might be using his mother’s trust to hide assets. Rebsamen Investments and River Investments served a writ of garnishment on the Lynda M. Lewis Revocable Trust as part of a ramped-up collection effort to start the new year.

So far, 16 writs served on banks, businesses and the trust have produced one hit among three responses, all from banks. The writs located $1,956 held in a Bank of England account.

The Bellomy Group LLC, a Dallas oil and gas consulting firm, registered a $150,000 summary judgment against John Lewis after he failed to respond to its 2016 lawsuit in Texas.

Little Rock’s First National Title Co. is suing Lewis to recoup $100,000 from the sale of rice acreage adjoining the hunting club. He failed to disclose that Kim Lewis held a second mortgage on the property.

First National paid $100,000 to make good on her financial claim from the sale when Lewis would not.

“My hopes and a lot of people’s hopes are that oil prices come back and that his fortunes are restored,” said Jim Pender, president of First National Title.