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Able loses $1M contract

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The financial problems for the island's largest employer of individuals with disabilities just keep rolling in. With creditors demanding payment immediately, an ongoing Department of Labor investigation, and their inability to make payroll, Able Industries has now lost a $1 million contract.  And the company is desperate for any cash it can get.

$800,000 that is being held by the Superior Court was the center of debate this morning. Able Industries wants that money to pay its employees and debtors while First Hawaiian Bank wants the half-million dollars owed to it, while former Able trustee Eddie Yokeno contends it's the employees money. As we reported, FHB wants a piece of the pie as able failed to make good on repaying its loan of credit with the banking institution. 

Today in court the bank's attorney, Robert Johnson, made it clear the financial institution will do whatever's necessary - even if that means going after Able's physical assets - to collect what is owed along with interest that's accruing at a rate of $80 per day.

While Able Industries understands that the bank needs to be paid and any steps to collect could result in the ultimate shutdown of the company, Able's attorney, Mark Smith, told the court that if their motion to release the funds was granted, the bank would be paid and the company could pay ASC Trust more than $300,000 in retirement contributions for its employees.

The contributions are in addition to last Friday's paychecks that still haven't been paid to the more than 200 employees of the company. Attorney Smith argues the $800,000 being held by the court is Able's money that should be released.

But a former board of trustee member believes the money belongs to the employees of Able.  Eddie Yokeno and his attorney Joseph Razzano, argued that a receiver should be put in place to review Able's financial situation so the court can get the truth.  Razzano telling the judge, the people in power took the money and that resulted in the company's current financial crisis.

Making matters worse is that able lost out on a million-dollar contract for food services they were providing at Camp Covington on Naval Base Guam. NISH, the organization that oversees able industries confirms the contract was removed from able and given to ICann. Able continues to hold a food services contract with Andersen Air Force Base at Magellan, a custodial contract and retail stores on both bases. 

Attorney Smith argued that if able doesn't get the $800,000 they could stand to lose more contracts as they remain behind with payroll.

KUAM News attempted to interview Able CEO and president Joaquin Leon Guerrero. who attended today's hearing, but he simply said, "no comment."

Judge Vern Perez will hold another status hearing next Thursday.

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