The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 14, 2012

Pittsburg store reopens after state revenue seizure

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A Pittsburg convenience store reopened Wednesday afternoon, a day after it and seven other stores in Southeast Kansas were seized by the Kansas Department of Revenue and shut down for failure to pay sales taxes.

The store was closed for part of the day. A steady stream of customers pulled up to Gorilla X-press, 2401 S. Rouse St., just before the noon hour Wednesday, only to find the doors locked and bearing signs declaring that the store had been seized. It had opened by 4 p.m.

Jeannine Koranda, public information officer for Kansas Department of Revenue, said the department seized eight convenience stores Tuesday with the assistance of local police. In addition to the Pittsburg store, two were in Coffeyville, one in Chetopa, one in Altamont, two in Independence and one in Neodesha. Most operate under the name Jump Start Markets.

All are owned by TAS Group LLC, which is owned by Adam McCullen, of Schenectady, N.Y., and Thomas L. Cook, of Ozark, Mo., the state reported.

The company owed $515,911.52 in state sales taxes collected between October 2011 and July this year, the state said.

“This is a last resort,” Koranda said of the seizure. “This happens when we have been in contact with them quite a few times before, after all other collection attempts — letters, phone calls, tax liens, legal action, on-site till taps, previous bank levies — after we have run through all other tools and are unsuccessful.”

During a seizure, officers take possession of all known bank accounts, on-site cash and personal property belonging to the owners, and seal the business. Assets then might be sold at public auction to pay for the taxes.

Koranda said that in this case, the seizure worked.

“The owners and the Department of Revenue were able to reach an acceptable payment arrangement, and we released the stores back to them,” she said.

She did not release details about the payment agreement.

Employees at the Pittsburg store Wednesday afternoon said they wouldn’t comment. The Globe’s attempts to reach the owners or officials with TAS Group were unsuccessful.

“The last thing we really want to do is go in and close down businesses,” Koranda said. “It is not good for the communities, not even good for us. Ultimately we’re trying to enforce the law and ensure a level playing field.”

Other stores open

CONVENIENCE STORES owned by TAS Group in Altamont, Chetopa, Coffeyville and Independence reopened for business Wednesday. The phone was not in service at the Neodesha store.