Death of bankrupt company’s owner prompts creditor questions

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The owner of a wood pellet company who allegedly cheated his customers out of tens of thousands of dollars has died, Target 12 has learned.

According to a death certificate obtained by Target 12, Alan Meisler, owner of Wilsonville Power Co., LLC, died of natural causes last month in Webster, Massachusetts.

Wilsonville Power was based in North Grosvenordale, Connecticut, and sold wood pellets for home heating.

Meisler filed for bankruptcy in 2016. At the time, he reported to the court that his liabilities were more than $314,000. According to bankruptcy filings, Meisler’s assets totaled just under $600.

Target 12 asked consumer attorney Chris Lefebvre what impact Meisler’s death will have on the bankruptcy process. Lefebvre does not represent Meisler or any of his creditors.

“Generally speaking, in most bankruptcies you don’t get anything in any event,” Lefebvre said. “In the few occasions where there are some assets for distribution and the person dies, the distribution can still go along. But bottom line, it’s usually not a great payday for the consumer.”

“In this particular case, this company had very little assets, hence consumers are going to get nothing,” Lefebvre added.

As Target 12 reported in 2016, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen filed an unfair trade practice lawsuit against Wilsonville Power and Meisler. According to the complaint, Meisler had received about $90,000 of prepayments for 400 tons of wood pellets. The state claims Meisler only supplied 74 tons of wood pellets. The complaint also alleges that Meisler knew he was not going to be able to fulfill orders, but continued to solicit prepayments from customers.

Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, said despite Meisler’s death, the lawsuit is pending, but noted consumer restitution would have to be handled through bankruptcy court.

Falkowski added, “in light of his [Meisler’s] death, we are considering next steps and are not in a position to comment further at this time.”

Meisler’s attorney has not responded to Target 12’s requests for comment.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.