CORRECTED: Dozens of produce suppliers that are collectively owed millions by stores and holding companies owned by the Alejo family of Los Angeles are in line with other creditors — including a bank with a $56 million claim — as numerous cases work their way through the federal court system.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture restricted four of the Alejos from operating in the produce industry, according to an April 3 notice from the agency that cited a $21,461 produce bill owed by Liborio Market Inc., Los Angeles, to an unnamed Florida supplier.
Ten days after the USDA sanction notice Liborio Market Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing the same principals as the USDA sanction.Those principals are: John Alejo, Enrique M. Alejo, Randy Alejo and Enrique J. Alejo. Court documents show total debts of $50 million to $100 million. The bankruptcy filing estimates 100 to 200 creditors.
John Alejo, designated in the bankruptcy filing as the principal with the authority to act for the company did not return calls for comment. The company's Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act License has been suspended.
Some produce suppliers have filed civil actions in federal court to recover money owed to them under PACA. The civil actions, filed Jan. 23, March 31 and May 2, list a variety of business entities owned by the four Alejos. Those businesses: Liborio Markets Inc., Liborio Holding Co., Liborio Colorado Holding Co., A&A Ontario Market Inc., Rancho Liborio, Triple A Grocers, Alejo Grocers and Alejo Markets.
Several individual grocery stores in California, Nevada and Colorado that are named in sequence — Liborio Markets No. 7, No. 8, No. 9, etc. — are also listed as defendants owing produce suppliers.
Produce suppliers seeking payment include: American Produce, Denver, $214,453; Federal Fruit & Produce Co., Denver, $266,646; and Valley Fruit & Produce Co., Los Angeles, $856,264.
Note on correction: The article originally included an incorrect amount owed to Professional Produce, Vernon, Calif., according to company officials. Professional Produce and Liborio Market Inc., Pasadena, Calif., entered into a payment agreement in 2011 to resolve Professional’s claim against Liborio. On Jan. 25, Professional Produce withdrew its case against Liborio.