Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cara Connors on Monday imposed immediate $1,000-per-day fines on the three companies behind the troubled Big Country Chateau apartments until the companies either provide all of the financial documentation she ordered them to turn over in February to the appointed receiver or explain why that cannot be done.
Connors’ decision capped an hour-long hearing Monday requested by lawyers for the Arkansas attorney general, who sued the ownership of the complex at 6200 Colonel Glenn Road over accusations Big Chateau violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act by failing to provide safe, livable housing and water service. The judge could impose fines of up to $10,000 per violation proved by the state.
No representatives of the companies were at the hearing, despite an order by Connors that they attend, which also drew her ire. The apartments are owned by Big Country Chateau LLC, a subsidiary of Apex Big Chateau AR LLC of New York, which in turn is owned by Apex Equity Group LLC, also of New York.
“Your clients are in trouble. I’ve got to figure out how much trouble,” Connors told the companies’ attorney. “It would have behooved them to show up.”
Their lawyer, Sylvester Smith of Little Rock, told the judge his clients have given everything they had, describing the Big Country operation as poorly managed. He suggested some of the materials might have been stolen.
Assistant Attorney General Amanda Wentz requested contempt sanctions in April.
She told the judge Monday the defendants’ have continually displayed “disrespect for the court’s authority over and over again.”
A city judge has already fined Big Country owners $31,950 for a slew of code violations at the property.