CHARLESTON — The search is on for a helicopter owned by a company owned by Gov. Jim Justice and managed by his son after a court ordered the asset to be seized to satisfy an earlier court judgment in favor of another company owed money by the Justices.
A supplemental writ of execution was issued Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia Abingdon Division commanding U.S. Marshals to seize a 2009 Bell Textron Canada Model 427 helicopter owned by Justice-owned Bluestone Resources based in Roanoke, Va.
The writ orders the marshals to seize all logs, records, accessories, parts, and other materials. The writ gives the marshals 90 days to seize the asset, commands marshals to collect costs and expenses associated with the writ, and to turn over net proceeds of the levied property to the U.S. Clerk of Courts. The writ also authorizes marshals to enter secured spaces by force if necessary to seize the helicopter.
According to the writ, the helicopter, with tail number N375JC, is located at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. The writ gives the marshals authority to search within the district for the helicopter. But according to AirNav RadarBox, a website to allow users to track aircrafts and flights, the helicopter was flown from Roanoke to Burlington, N.C. Thursday. A request for comment submitted to a representative of Justice’s companies was not returned.
The writ was sought Sept. 22 by Caroleng Investments Limited, a Virgin Islands-based company that also served as the parent company of Russian mining and steel company Mechel. Justice sold his coal mining interests in Bluestone Resources to Mechel in 2009 for $578 million in cash and stock. Justice bought Bluestone Resources back in 2015 for $5 million.
As part of the deal to buy back Bluestone, Justice agreed to pay Caroleng Investments royalty payments based on a per-ton of coal sold as well as a certain percentage of any future sales. But Caroleng Investments filed suit against Justice after his companies started withholding the royalty payments, arguing that Caroleng was overpaid. Caroleng argued that its deal with Bluestone prohibited the company from holding back royalty payments.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware issued a judgment in 2021 in favor of Caroleng Investments for a total of $10.1 million, including $8.4 million in a final award and $1.7 million in pre-award interest. The court also set a 9% interest rate retroactive to May 13, 2020 as long as the amount remains unpaid.
The writ is just the latest headache for Justice and his family-owned businesses. In May, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia issued writs of execution to the Marshals Service for Justice, son Jay Justice and two Justice-owned companies seeking $88,866 in attorney fees for a total $10 million award in 2021, including $6.8 million plus interest, in favor of Pennsylvania-based Xcoal Energy and Resources after Justice refused to pay a $1.9 million balance.
Just in the last year, Justice-owned property has been sold on county courthouse steps for unpaid property taxes, one bank has sought the garnishment of the Governor’s $150,000 annual salary to satisfy a nearly $1 million debt. Another bank is seeking more than $300 million in personal loan guarantees by Justice and his family for his businesses. The companies are also facing federal cases over unpaid mine safety penalties and fees.
Justice, nearing the end of his two terms as governor of West Virginia, is now the leading Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in 2024 held by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. According to his U.S. Senate financial disclosure report filed last week, Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice reported more than $253,000 in salaries and between $25,000 and $73,000 of income derived from dividends and interest from 10 out of 147 separate assets.
The estimated worth of Justice’s 147 assets was between $37.5 million and more than $1.9 billion. The Justices reported between $37.5 million and $108.1 million in liabilities between lines of credit, promissory notes, and judgments.