Creditors petition for Old Town Fuel and Fiber’s bankruptcy, claiming $1 million in debt

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PORTLAND — Four companies Friday asked a bankruptcy judge to put the shuttered Old Town Fuel and Fiber into Chapter 7 bankruptcy to satisfy their claims the company owes them more than $1 million.

Red Shield Acquisition LLC, the corporation that owns the wood pulp mill and other assets in Old Town, will have an opportunity to contest the filing that seeks to recover debts dating back to February of this year. It does not mean the company is seeking bankruptcy protection.

A representative from Patriarch Partners, the investment firm that owns Red Shield, was not immediately available for comment, and no attorney has entered an appearance on the company’s behalf. An employee with the company’s corporate registrar said she could not provide any other contact information.

The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bangor comes after earlier attempts by several companies owed money by Red Shield to recover their debt through notices of claims filed in September with the Penobscot County Registry of Deeds. Red Shield also owed more than $1 million in back taxes to Old Town. Municipal officials were not immediately available for comment Monday, a state and federal holiday.

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In the involuntary bankruptcy petition, Bangor-based Portage Wood Products claimed the largest debt against Red Shield, indicating that as of Friday it was owed $634,344 for wood chips delivered to the mill between Feb. 10, 2014, and March 11, 2014. The amount includes accrued interest on the allegedly overdue payment.

In the filing, the Florida-based Trico Mechanical Contractors also claimed Red Shield owes it $293,050 for repair services.

CCB Inc., a commercial construction company based in Westbrook, claimed $73,580 for materials and labor and Maine Woods Co., based in Portage, claimed $24,426 in debt for wood chips it delivered between Feb. 20, 2014, and March 21, 2014.

The filing comes as the fate of the mill is still unknown, and two other paper mills in East Millinocket and Bucksport are on the market. The mill notified employees of the closure in August.

In addition to producing wood pulp, the company had secured a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for research about turning wood pulp into cellulosic sugars to make ethanol that could be used in various applications, including jet fuel.

The New York-based Patriarch Partners, led by the prolific investor Lynn Tilton, purchased the former Georgia-Pacific mill in 2008 for $19 million.

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