West properties move closer to sale

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — Attorneys representing Apex Mortgage, which now owns West Enterprises, will file a motion to confirm their plans to sell the property today or early next week in bankruptcy court.

Last Friday, several pieces of property owned by West Enterprises whose president is Theodore “Bubber” West, were lost in a foreclosure sale.

West maintains that a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing the day before the sale bars the land from being sold.

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But John Underwood, representing Apex Mortgage, said when West filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2008, the bankruptcy court lifted a stay on West’s properties allowing them to be sold under Chapter 13 and any subsequent filings.

“We feel strongly about our position,” Underwood said.

Last week West claimed the Chapter 13 filing was a personal bankruptcy and had no impact on the Chapter 11 filing.

But Underwood has verified that West listed West Enterprises in his primary filing and believes he has no protection from sale in any other bankruptcy filings.

“We think the order (allowing the sale) is clear,” Underwood said.

West said he has been advised by his attorneys not to comment on the matter.

Underwood also said West filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in addition to 11, the day before the foreclosure sale.

On the day of the sale, West denied the Chapter 7 filing but confirmed the Chapter 11 filing.

While West did say his business is still open and operational, even though a mortgage company owns the property, some with longstanding accounts at the funeral home have concerns.

Lem Smith said his mother has been paying for burial insurance with West Funeral Home for 40 years.

Now Smith is concerned that when it comes time to bury his 88-year-old mother, the business she’s been dealing with won’t even exist.

“I’ve had to come up with a plan B,” Smith said. “It’s something I’ve had to deal with, but what about all the other people that have done business with him?”

Robert Johnson III plans to purchase the property from Apex once the bankruptcy matter is settled in court and has said he has no plans to make changes at Pine Hill Cemetery, which was also foreclosed on. However he will sell the properties on Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

West, last week, said the funeral home will honor all existing contracts.