By: Katie Imler, Law Clerk
On May 21, 2013, Cooper-Booth Management Company, Inc. a full-line, full-service wholesale distributor for retailers and convenience stores, filed for a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Case No. 2:13-bk-14522). The company began in 1865 as Booth Tobacco Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Being family owned and operated for three generations, Cooper-Booth has been recognized as one of the Top 20 leading convenience store wholesales in the country. Murton Margolis is Emeritus and Barry Margolis is President.
Cooper-Booth, located at 200 Lincoln West Drive, Mountville, PA 17554 listed assets of $500,000-$1 million and liabilities of $10-$50 million, enumerating over 200 creditors . See summary of the docket here. Schedules are due June 4, 2013. The Debtor is represented by Aris J. Karalis and Robert W. Seitzer of Maschmeyer Karalis P.C., 1900 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Cooper-Booth’s largest creditors include Maryland Comptroller of the Treasury-Alcohol & Tobacco Tax ($7,438,500.00), PA Department of Revenue ($3,330,768.00), New York State Department of Tax & Finance Division of Treasury ($3,140,324.74), Delaware Division of Revenue ($1,563,285.93).
The federal government has frozen the Debtor’s bank accounts while an investigation is pending to determine if one of the Debtor’s customers has been illegally smuggling untaxed cigarettes into New York. Basel Ramadan and his brother, Samer Ramadan, bought cigarettes from the Debtor Cooper Booth Wholesale Inc. using business fronts in Virginia allowing them to pay the $0.30/pack Virginia cigarette tax instead of the $4.35/pack cigarette tax in New York.
The two moved 20,000 cigarettes a week to the New York City area without paying the New York taxes, which cost the state approximately $80 million in taxes. See more on the story here.
The Debtor’s case was initially assigned to the Honorable Judge Eric L. Frank, but was reassigned to the Honorable Judge Magdeline D. Coleman. On May 22, 2013 Judge Coleman issued an order demanding timely filing of all Schedules. Judge Coleman also entered an order directing the joint administration of Debtors’ Chapter 11 Cases 13-14522 and 13-14521 pursuant to Bankruptcy Code § 1015(b), determining 13-14519 as the lead case. The Debtor’s second voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy was for Cooper-Booth Transportation Company, LP (Case No. 2:13-bk-14521), which listed $1-$10 million in both assets and liabilities. Most of the liabilities are for state and federal taxes.