LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s been nearly 4 years since Limestone Furniture Mart customers were duped – dozens agreeing to pay by cash or check in exchange for ‘deep discounts’. What they never expected back in early 2011 was that the furniture they bought would never show up and just weeks later, furniture mart doors would be closed.
Now, following court continuance after continuance after former owners Scott and Brandi Connell were arrested on multiple charges of theft by deception – victims of said deception at the hands of the Connells may finally be seeing some sort of resolution.
The Connell’s first attempt at filing chapter 11 bankruptcy failed due to lack of assets and a proliferation of debts – not the least of which were owed to supplier, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.
The Connell’s were eventually awarded chapter 7 bankruptcy status and herein lies the victory, albeit small, for furniture mart customers.
According to Limestone County court documents on June 6, 2014 there was an order agreed upon by the court that the list of claimants and amounts in conjunction to those names were given ‘priority’ in the bankruptcy. This means those victims listed stood to receive money, if available, in the settlement of the bankruptcy.
“It looks to be just under 18% of what was stolen from each one of us,” says furniture mart customer Anna Morgan. Morgan who was out almost $900 after the Connell’s scheme, has been highly involved in court proceedings as well as in corresponding with fellow victims. She’s also well aware of the tough situations many customers experienced – like those who were already victims of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.
“So people who lost everything took money into these people to order their whole houses worth of furniture and they stole it,” explains Morgan. “Some people are out thousands instead of hundreds.”
It has been established that Limestone Furniture Mart’s current assets are $18,679.70. After Huntsville attorney Tazwell Shepard – appointed as trustee to the bankruptcy - collects his fee of $3,190.71 a potential balance of $14,413.85 for claimants in the civil case.
Shepard has recommended the court make victims’ claims a ‘priority’; therefore, that means they would have ‘priority’ claims in that remaining $14,413.85.
Anna Morgan says she’s one of the lucky ones. She sued Scott and Brandi Connell individually in small claims court and won – graciously accepting only half of what she was entitled to legally.
Morgan and others are now forced to take the outcome with a proverbial grain of salt.
“Yeah, something’s better than nothing,” Morgan shrugs, “the money at this point 3 years later – its’ gone - you know, if I get $100, whoo-hoo,” she smiles sarcastically.
Now the question remains, will Scott and Brandi Connell actually be punished in their perpetually continued criminal case?
The Connell’s have been scheduled for trial again for August 25th. Maybe something will happen this time but many Limestone Furniture Mart customers know better than to hold their breath.