Cimino Bros. Produce enters chapter 7 bankruptcy

11/10/2011 11:10:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Mike HornickCimino Brothers Produce, Salinas, Calif., is in chapter 7 bankruptcy.(UPDATED COVERAGE, 4:20 p.m.) A federal judge has ordered Salinas, Calif.-based Cimino Bros. Produce into chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, and the company’s attorneys withdrew from the case for nonpayment.

Cimino Bros. filed for chapter 11 reorganization in November 2009, when its owners agreed to cut monthly salaries by $20,000 to reduce costs. At the time the company had nine employees in Salinas and 15 in Laredo, Texas, where it operated a cooler.

On Oct. 31 in San Jose, Calif., U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Weissbrodt ordered the conversion to chapter 7, according to court records. A federal trustee sought the change, citing Cimino Bros. for failing to pay a $6,500 quarterly fee and missing a July 31 reporting deadline.

Less than a week before the chapter 7 ruling, Weissbrodt approved Cimino Bros. attorneys’ request to leave the case. Partners Vince Cimino and Armand Cimino told Los Angeles-based firm Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Brill LLP that they could not make further payments, according to court filings.

Cimino Bros. Produce had not paid the bulk of its legal fees since 2009.

No new attorney has filed to represent Cimino Bros. The telephone number listed under the company’s contact information in court records has been disconnected.

“It’s unusual, not to have representation,” said Reidun Stromsheim, a San Francisco attorney who represents Marc Del Piero, trustee for the bankruptcy estate. “But the lawyers worked for a long time and haven’t been paid.”

A meeting of creditors has been scheduled for Dec. 1 in Salinas.

Stromsheim said she and Del Piero, who are new to the case, are uncertain where it will lead.

“We are just scratching the surface,” she said. “We come in last, and we know the least. The case was filed two years ago. A chapter 7 trustee does the same in all cases. They liquidate the assets of the estate and cast around to see if any lawsuits can be filed to claw back money.

“Did somebody get money who shouldn’t have?” Stromsheim said. “I have no idea whether that is the case here.”

Stromsheim said she and Del Piero will get up to speed by talking to business associates and employees of Cimino Bros. Produce.

Vince Cimino owns 50% of the company. Armand Cimino and Stephanie Cimino each have 25% stakes. In bankruptcy filings the company listed about 200 creditors owed between $10 million and $50 million. Assets were reported in the same range.

Cimino Bros.’ financial issues surfaced in October 2009, when a $6.5 million loan from Wells Fargo came due. Wells Fargo seized its $255,000 bank account.

Cimino Bros. dealt primarily in broccoli, with operations in Mexico under Cimino Bros. Co. Produce Mexico, formed in 1998. The company developed the largest national network of Asian foodservice distributors, according to court filings. It reported strong growth between 2004 and 2007, when revenues jumped from $14.6 million to $20.7 million.

A Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act spokeswoman in Tucson said there were no PACA claims against the company. Creditors listed in court documents include transportation companies, financial institutions and government entities.



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green.growers    
mexico  |  November, 10, 2011 at 08:34 PM

The new lawyers should know that salt and offices are closed and there is no one answer for Cimino Brothers Produce, or the United States or Mexico, that if they're offering a machine that is seized by farmers who were paid with checks which were signed by persons not authorized to do so are accused of fraud in Mexico also, if someone knows they will not sell product and Srs, lawyers are not paid as they have no money, well so they say. Srs.Cimino come to Mexico and solve problems left with little economic solvency and imaginative that it was all a dream, come and pay the farmers, suppliers and employees as well as his situation with the SAT, otherwise it may be extradited from one moment to another by Mexican law

green grower    
mexico, puebla  |  January, 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Vince, Armand, is a matter of time before Mexico authorities require them to face all the debts that left pants hopefully have enough to come forward

green.growers    
puebla  |  July, 18, 2012 at 02:10 PM

All providers and employees of CIMINO BROTHERS PRODUCE OF MEXICO they were to owe money, they are told that the house of San Miguel de Allende is for sale, to see that can you take from there, and to collect something we must

John Blaze    
San Antonio, TX  |  March, 06, 2013 at 05:53 PM

Wow, I used to work for them from 2008 to 2010. First they cut our hours from 40 to 32 per week, and luckily I got a better paying full time job elsewhere. So glad I got the hell out of Dodge before they kicked the can cause coworkers of mine who stayed their told me they worked without pay for a whole month. They would just carelessly spend alot of money in their daily operations. Still, the Ciminos as people were overly nice to me and highly approachable people. Sucks that they had such a downfall.

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