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Seeking $3 million from Justice, officials find a few thousand plus empty accounts

Update: The debt case described in this story has been settled.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A financial company coming after Gov. Jim Justice for almost $3 million in personally-guaranteed debt hasn’t found much in the bank.

Forbes says Justice is worth $1.5 billion and says he is West Virginia’s only billionaire.

Siemens Financial Services, aiming to collect $2.79 million, this spring asked the Greenbrier County sheriff to seize personal property and for Justice assets in a dozen banks to be checked.

Responses on file with the Greenbrier Circuit clerk show only a few thousand dollars identified, plus a bunch of accounts that have either been closed or don’t have any money.

Premiere Bank reported back that it has $1,531.75.

“However, these funds will not be released unless an order requesting them is received,” the bank wrote.

A second filing by Premiere the next day made reference to a certificate of deposit with a balance of $1,640.72.

Wesbanco and Summit Community say they don’t have accounts for Justice. City National says a Justice account was closed. United Bank says there were no funds in a Justice account at the time of the inquiry.

The search came after Justice signed off on a court agreement to pay down almost $4 million in debt to Siemens Financial Services, which is based in New Jersey.

The debt originally belonged to one of Justice’s companies, Southern Coal. But Justice had earlier personally guaranteed the debt would be paid down.

He didn’t do so fast enough to satisfy the company. It’s now trying to force the collection of what’s left.

Separately, Justice’s campaign for re-election disclosed last week that he had made personal loans amounting to $131,500 to the political effort.

Those came in installments of $75,000 on April 22, $35,000 on May 1 and $21,500 on May 30.

Last October, public broadcasting reporters explored at least five cases in which judges ruled that Justice family companies failed to pay suppliers for goods or services.

In each of those, courts ordered U.S.Marshals to seize assets from Justice family companies’ bank accounts to cover the debts. But the bank accounts were often discovered to be empty or closed.

On Monday, Justice was supposed to have had a court date in Frederick, Md., over yet another debt case.

Justice was ordered to make the appearance as part of a lingering court case involving debt of $1,479,791.13 to Middletown Valley Bank by Justice Farms of North Carolina, one of about 90 companies owned by Justice and his family.

Justice signed documents personally guaranteeing the loans.

Last week, the docket in the case listed an order representing satisfaction of an earlier judgment. The case is now listed as “closed” in the Maryland Court system.

The Greenbrier Circuit Clerk also received a July 9 notice of satisfaction of judgment in the Middletown Valley Bank case. The accompanying document describes that case as “paid, settled and satisfied.”

Justice, speaking to reporters last month, said the public shouldn’t worry about such matters.

“You need to quit worrying about my stuff,” he said, “and the drama.”

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