Lawsuit

Two former executives of a local home health agency are suing the chief executive officer on a handful of claims in response to the CEO’s lawsuit claiming the pair embezzled money from the company.

The legal dispute between executives of United Home Care Inc. centers on claims and counterclaims about whether company money was used for personal gain, or whether some executives’ personal finances were used to benefit the company or other executives.

Seeking claims against United Home Care CEO Danny Jones are Charlie Simpson, former chief operating officer at United Home Care, and Charles Gardner, the company’s former chief financial officer.

After firing Simpson and Gardner in March, Jones filed his April 18 lawsuit against the pair in Fourth Judicial District Court. Simpson and Gardner answered Jones’ lawsuit, denying his allegations while also asserting counterclaims through reconventional demand against the CEO.

The lawsuit and counterclaims — United Home Care Inc., Trinity Home Health Care Inc., and John D. Jones v. Charlie Simpson, Charles Gardner, CCZ LLC, DJ-CS Properties Inc., and CKS Properties LLC — involve a complicated number of companies and LLCs supposedly managed or arranged by Jones and Simpson in coordination with United Home Care’s operations.

“During the course and scope of defendant’s employment, Charlie Simpson and Charles Gardner embezzled money, misallocated and misappropriated company funds and participated in gross misuse of unauthorized funds using their position of authority in the company,” stated Jones’ lawsuit.

In Jones’ lawsuit, the CEO accused Simpson and Gardner of writing checks to individuals and businesses that were not associated with the company and cashing those checks for personal gain; submitting personal credit card statements to the company for payment; using company credit cards for personal gain; obtaining cash cards for personal gain; buying and renovating real estate as well as buying automobiles in the company’s name.

West Monroe attorney Dion Young is representing Jones and United Home Care.

In a May 11 answer to Jones’ lawsuit, Simpson argued Jones knew he used his personal credit card in connection to the business among other arrangements.

“As Mr. Jones well knew, Mr. Simpson’s charges to and payments of his personal American Express were with Mr. Jones’ knowledge and consent, along with various other business arrangements and agreements between Mr. Simpson, United, Trinity, and Mr. Jones.

Simpson’s claims against Jones and United Home Care included failure to pay wages, breach of contract, conversion, theft and defamation.

Meanwhile, Simpson’s answer claimed Jones had “bad credit and tax liens” as well as “financial and debt problems.”

“Over the last several years, Mr. Jones has faced financial and debt problems, including tax liens,” stated Simpson’s answer. “In fact, on October 23, 2015, Mr. Jones filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Louisiana.”

Jones’ financial difficulties led to the ties between the company’s operations and Simpson’s personal finances, according to Simpson’s answer.

“During the last several years, Mr. Jones entered into agreements to use Mr. Simpson’s credit to fund company operations and to fund and arrange other business and personal ventures for Mr. Jones,” stated Simpson’s answer.

Some of those business ventures included the three defendants: CCZ LLC, DJ-CS Properties LLC and CKS Properties LLC, according to Simpson.

One of those alleged ventures concerned the financing of automobiles, which Simpson’s answer detailed at length.

“For example, due to Mr. Jones’ bad credit and tax liens, Mr. Jones wanted to use Mr. Simpson’s company CCZ LLC to obtain automobile leases for United,” continued Simpson’s answer. “In or about 2014, it was agreed between Mr. Simpson and Mr. Jones that United would fund down payments for various automobiles which would be financed in the name of CCZ and leased back to United for its use under a lease-purchase agreement. Other automobiles were financed by CCZ with no down payment provided by United and were leased to United with no purchase option. Mr. Simpson is the guarantor on the automobile loans. It was also agreed that United would pay insurance on the automobiles.

“Notably, one of the automobiles (a Chevy Tahoe) financed by CCZ, with Mr. Simpson as the guarantor on the loan, was titled under the name of Mr. Jones’ company, DMJ United Properties LLC, and used by Mr. Jones’ girlfriend. After Mr. Simpson’s termination, Mr. Jones and United breached their agreements with Mr. Simpson, quit paying the automobile leases and automobile insurance, and placed a number of automobiles behind a locked gate to the exclusion of Mr. Simpson and CCZ. As a result of Mr. Jones and United’s breach of contract, Mr. Simpson and CCZ remain liable for around $200,000 in automobile loans, which will, inter alia, damage Mr. Simpson’s credit.”

Simpson’s answer also claimed a similar arrangement was made with Jones about property at Caney Lake in Jackson Parish. That arrangement also soured, according to Simpson’s answer.

Simpson and his companies are represented by Michael Reese Davis, Tim Hartdegen and Richard Sherburne Jr., with the Baton Rouge law firm Hymel, Davis & Petersen.

Both Gardner and Simpson sued Jones for defamation based on a March 17, 2017 letter Jones allegedly sent to some 500 employees of United Home Care and Trinity Home Health Care.

According to Gardner’s May 12 answer, Jones’ letter stated the following: “As many of you know this company is taking a different direction. On Monday March 13, 2017, Charlie Simpson C.O.O. And Charles Gardner C.F.O. Services were terminated and no longer represent any of these companies. I, Danny Jones, will be back in the office running the company on a day to day basis. We are currently investigating allegations of employee theft, however these thefts or misappropriations have nothing to do with Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance of any type.”

Simpson said the letter damaged his reputation and standing in the community, especially since he was involved in local boards and organizations.

Gardner also is suing for unpaid wages and claiming Jones’ alleged defamation violated the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA).

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