Investor sees funds melt away in fraudulent ice company venture

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 10, 2009, 3:23am

GALVESTON - A Harris County man accuses a Galveston County business and one of its agents of swindling him out of $100,000, recent court documents say.

Marcus Bolden is suing Southwest T&I Inc. and Ali Alagha of Houston to recover money he claims he invested in an ice retail company three years ago in exchange for a portion of its profits.

The case was filed Sept. 3 in Galveston County District Court.

According to the complaint, in spring 2006, Alagha convinced Bolden, a highway patrolman, to contribute $100,000 to the Alagha's business venture.

"Alagha represented to Bolden that the business was worth $400,000 and convinced Bolden to invest $100,000 in the business," the original petition states.

The suit says Alagha promised the plaintiff that Bolden would receive 25 percent of net profits from the business, as well as a management fee based on the number of ice bags that were sold.

It adds Bolden paid the Alagha $50,000 in cash and $50,000 payable in 36 monthly payments of $1,400 each.

Papers show the plaintiff and Alagha entered into an agreement put together by Alagha.

"Because the agreement was written by Alagha it should be strictly construed against Alagha," the suit says.

The plaintiff asserts it was not before long he learned that he was not getting his share.

"Bolden has discovered that Alagha only paid $170,000 for the entire Southwest Ice Business, thus his $100,000 investment for 25 percent of the net profits was a gross overpayment," the suit says.

Aside from the alleged discrepancies, the plaintiff argues Alagha ran the business improperly.

He claims Alagha's wrongdoing put his full-time job with the highway department and his shareholder position in jeopardy.

"Alagha has mismanaged the business, such that he has accumulated large unpaid debits for ice and utilities," the suit says.

"Alagha has also hired illegal drivers for the delivery trucks such that Bolden is exposed to liability and potential loss of his job as a highway patrolman."

Bolden claims Alagha took such actions without his initial knowledge and did not refrain despite the plaintiff's protests.

The suit ultimately faults Alagha and Southwest T&I of fraud in the inducement

In addition to the original $100,000 investment, Bolden seeks attorney's fees, interest and court costs.

Angleton attorney Lynn J. Klement is representing the plaintiff, and the case has been assigned to Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss.

Case No. 09CV1604

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