Recently seized gas stations closed again in southeast Kansas - KOAM TV 7

Recently seized gas stations closed again in southeast Kansas

Updated January 28, 2013 at 4:55 PM CST:  Workers at several gas stations throughout southeast Kansas are now without a job, invoking strong feelings towards the owner.

"I have never seen anybody more of a slime bag," says Commilla Kidd, a former clerk at a store in Neodesha.

All of the gas stations are owned by Thomas Cook, who previously received a citation from the state of Kansas.

Gas stations in Altamont, Chetopa, Coffeyville, Neodesha, Independence, Neodesha, Pittsburg were seized by the state of Kansas in November.  State officials say the owner of all eight stations, Thomas Cook, failed to pay more than $500,000 in retail sales tax.  A deal between the owner and state was reached, and the gas stations reopened.

Today, those gas stations are closed once again.

Gas station workers say there were warning signs.

"We had to pay cash for all of our inventory," says Bonnie Jordan, the former manager of a store in Neodesha.

"Bonnie would ask 'why do we have to pay in cash?'" says former store clerk Commilla Kidd. "'Oh, this is just temporary.'  'Why can't we order food?'  'Oh, it's just temporary.'"

After the state of Kansas allowed the gas stations' owner to reopen his businesses, workers at the gas station in Neodesha say things got even worse.

Vendors weren't being paid.  Customer sales dwindled.

Now it seems the gas station has closed for good.

Workers say they were fired Thursday without reason or a final paycheck from Cook.

"Told me that I needed to go home - he needed some things to take care of," says Jordan.

Gas station workers say Cook owes vendors hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I understand he owes everybody in the world," says Jordan.

But these now former employees say they and other former co-workers should have priority.

"I had $100 to go on my utility bill - I don't have that $100 any more," says Kidd.  "I don't have it to pay it, and they give you an extension, well guess what, I'm still not going to have the money to pay it."

Workers say they haven't heard from Cook since he fired them.

KOAM and Fox 14 left a message for Thomas Cook on his cell phone but as of late this afternoon he had yet to return our call.

Updated November 13, 2012 at 5:15 PM CST:  Authorities tell us they have reached an agreement with the owners of eight gas stations seized earlier today in Southeast Kansas.

We're told the assets will be released and the owners can reopen the gas station.

Posted November 13, 2012 at 4:35 PM CST:  The state of Kansas closes eight gas stations.  They are now properties of the state.

Pittsburg State campus police put the Conoco gas station on Centennial Street near Via Christi Hospital under lockdown.

Chetopa, Kansas has only two gas stations and one of those was seized as well.  A posted sign reads "This property now belongs to the state of Kansas for nonpayment of taxes".

The state tells us the owner of these gas stations, TAS Group, failed to pay $515,911 in retail sales tax from late last year and the beginning of this year.

Other gas stations seized include two in Coffeyville, one in Altamont, two in Independence and one in Neodesha.

Officials with the state of Kansas tell us the gas station's business inventory and bank accounts have been seized.

If no agreement is reached with the owners that property will be auctioned off.

We are told owners of TAS Group live in both Ozark, Missouri and New York State.  So far, we - as well as city clerks in those areas - have been unable to locate contact information for these individuals.

If an agreement can not be reached the properties will be auctioned off.

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