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Matthew Cone stole $150,000 in diesel fuel from various suppliers, court records reveal

Civil court records from multiple jurisdictions in southeast Texas show that Matt Cone stole nearly $150,000 worth of diesel fuel delivered to him by at least three distinct fuel suppliers from Summer 2011 through Fall of 2013. Over that time, Mr. Cone established a pattern of behavior whereby:


  • He would open an account with a supplier of diesel fuel, then

  • He would have as much diesel fuel as possible delivered to him in a 10 to 60 day window, before invoices came due, then

  • He would fail to render payment to the supplier, while retaining possession of the commodity for his own use or resale, then

  • He would repeat step one with a new supplier.


There is irrefutable evidence establishing Mr. Cone’s pattern of behavior below for three such acts by Mr. Cone. Save SBISD feels Mr. Cone shows clear intent to deceive his counterparty in at least one of these cases.


Keep in mind, these are only the cases we know about, and only because the defrauded suppliers pursued aggressive legal action.


If proven in court, Theft of $150,000 or more is a second degree felony punishable by a minimum sentence to the State Penitentiary of two years, and a maximum incarceration of twenty (20) years.


INSTANCE ONE


In September 2011, Bay Oil Company filed suit in Ft. Bend County seeking payment of $47,212 from Mr. Cone and his entity Cone Shipping LLC for 10,203 gallons of No. 2 Diesel Fuel it had delivered to Mr. Cone in the 60 days prior.


Mr. Cone refused to pay them:



Notwithstanding this signed credit application with personal guaranty:




Many invoices from the supplier like this one:



Totaling $47,212 per this A/R aging report:



Mr. Cone appeared to settle this dispute with Bay Oil Company once Bay Oil presented the Court with this overwhelming evidence against Mr. Cone.


INSTANCE TWO


In May 2013, Third Coast Bank, a creditor to FuelStreamers Inc., sued Mr. Cone and Cone Shipping LLC in Harris County Court for payment of $26,274 owed for 6,752 gallons of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel delivered to him over 20 days from February to March 2012.


Mr. Cone refused to pay FuelStreamers for an entire year for this diesel fuel, contributing to FuelStreamers’ default to their creditor, Third Coast Bank, which resulted in the creditor filing suit against Mr. Cone’s entity.


They claimed "Cone Shipping had ordered and accepted certain quantities of petroleum fuels...and failed to pay for these goods," adding, "Despite receiving notice of its delinquent account, Cone Shipping failed to settle the account."



Again, Mr Cone refused to pay for $26,274 of diesel fuel of which he had already taken possession:




After being sued a second time for the same deceptive trade practice, Mr. Cone entered into an agreement with Third Coast Bank in November 2013, nineteen (19) months after taking delivery of the fuel from FuelStreamers.


They put Mr. Cone on a payment plan of $2,000 per week, which would have the balance paid off in early 2014.



THIRD INSTANCE,

CONTEMPORANEOUS WITH THE SECOND


At the same time he was being forced to finally pay for the fuel he stole from FuelStreamers in 2012, Mr. Cone opened an account with Texas Fueling Services on October 8, 2013. Texas Fueling Services had been in business for about 4 months at that time:



He signed it October 8, 2013:



and personally guaranteed it:



He then promptly ran up over $75,000 of fuel deliveries and walked away from Texas Fueling 75 days later:



This third instance really got to us. The Save SBISD team has small business owners in its ranks. We remember the struggles starting out. We can empathize with a company that has to deal with a thief like Matt Cone four months into operations.


We don’t know anything about Texas Fueling Services other than they sell a commodity. Therefore, the only way they can distinguish themselves as a startup is with better customer service, which in this case meant extending more trust to Matthew Cone than should reasonably have been offered.


It’s right there in the A/R report above.


Any small business owner can see it. We can almost hear the CEO thinking “man, Cone sure is buying a lot of fuel, and that’s great, but he’s slow to pay. Should I have faith in this guy? I suppose, lets ship him some more, he has at least paid us something…”


Take particular note that the fuel deliveries to Matt Cone got larger and larger as predator Matt was likely sensing the unease of his latest victim…


By the time the CEO finally realizes he’s being swindled, it’s the week before Christmas and he has a working capital problem he never could have imagined in October. It could be fatal to his new business. And maybe this CEO has a wife and young kids with holiday expectations that will now go unfulfilled. Or maybe employees that took risk on a startup he had hoped to give a small holiday bonus. We don’t know, but like we said it got to us, so we dug extra deep on this one.


Sean Kramer, the President of Texas Fueling Services, wasn’t going to let Matt Cone’s theft take his fledgling business down.


In January 2014, Texas Fueling Services sued Mr. Cone and his related entity in Harris County Court seeking payment of $75,168 owed for “quantities of petroleum fuel” which Mr. Cone had ”ordered and accepted” but not paid for.


In the affidavit attached to his lawsuit, Mr. Kramer explained:


“I have made numerous demands for payment. I called Matthew Cone many times. He has been ignoring my calls… On or about Jan 14, 2014, I was informed that Cone Shipping was in the process of selling all its assets and that Cone Shipping does not intend to pay Texas Fueling the amount owed.



Mr. Kramer closed his affidavit with, “This information alarmed me as the amount owed is substantial. Selling all of Cone Shipping assets without paying the balance owed to Texas Fueling would cause Texas Fueling irreparable injury.



Mr. Kramer requested a restraining order and permanent injunction to prevent Mr. Cone from taking all the value out of Cone Shipping LLC before Texas Fueling could get paid:



…and he got it immediately. A Judge shut down Mr. Cone’s efforts to circumvent payment of this debt to Mr. Kramer on January 24, 2014:



Now unable to sell the business's assets and use those proceeds for himself, Mr. Cone was running out of moves. To avoid paying Texas Fueling Systems, and other creditors, Mr. Cone voluntarily bankrupted Cone Shipping LLC one week later:



Mr. Cone’s bankruptcy filings clearly list Texas Fueling as a creditor:



After a brief attempt at business reorganization under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, Mr. Cone suddenly decided in July 2014 to stop those efforts. He filed an emergency petition seeking to liquidate all assets immediately for the benefit of the secured creditors:



As an unsecured creditor, Texas Fueling was not going to get paid from the estate of Cone Shipping LLC. This would be a win for Mr. Cone, because he had already taken their fuel and monetized it, and now wasn’t going to ever have to pay for it.


Undeterred, Mr. Kramer went after Matthew Cone individually, as Mr. Cone had personally guaranteed payment under just such a scenario.


Now personally cornered, Mr. Cone and his attorneys had no choice but to quite literally scribble together a settlement agreement with Mr. Kramer.


Gaze upon this top-flight legal work product, which was actually filed, in a court of law, by Matt Cone and his crack legal team:





Hang.

It.

In.

The.

Louvre.


Based on all we have said in this update and our others over the last few weeks, is any reader surprised to find Mr. Cone needing ANOTHER payment plan? Would any reader be surprised to learn he defaulted under this one too?


The lawyers finally unearthed a typewriter and got the Judge to sign off on this agreement in October 2014:



All Mr. Cone had to do now was make his payments for the next six months and this would all be behind him.


In an absolutely shocking turn of events, it seems Mr. Cone was in breach of his agreement and in violation of the court order forty days later. How do we know that? Because on November 13, 2014, attorneys for Mr. Kramer sent Mr. Cone this thirty-two (32) page request for post judgement discovery. 32 pages! That's three times longer than any other document filed in this case!!


Post Judgement Interrogatories
.PDF
Download PDF • 1.10MB

If you want to give yourself nightmares, skim through that document and see if you would like to have to respond to those inquiries. “Request for Financial Proctology Examination” is the simplest way to describe it.


Mr. Kramer was clearly not being paid per the terms of the agreement and judgement, and was looking for Mr. Cone’s personal assets he could use to collect.


Mr. Cone refused to respond to the request:



So Mr. Kramer asked the judge to compel Mr. Cone to do so:



And the Judge agreed:



Checkmate. Mr. Kramer now had access to the information he needed to finally collect payment for the stolen fuel, twenty-eight (28) months after he had made delivery.


We assume that Mr. Kramer’s ensuing financial rectal exam was so thorough and far-reaching that it made Mr. Cone’s ears bleed.


Somewhere in all those answers, Mr. Kramer seems to have found enough of Mr. Cone’s liquid assets to get paid. The proof?


On May 15, 2015, Texas Fueling Services quietly released a lien it had placed on Mr. Cone’s wife’s home in Walnut Bend shortly after submitting the interrogatories earlier in November:



Texas Fueling Services released their lien four days before Mr. Cone's wife sold her house, and therefore, four days before Texas Fueling would have automatically collected their money owed directly from the title company:



To be clear, this was not HIS house, nor was it THEIR house, it was HER house. Titled in her maiden name.


It took action my Ms. Hiler, selling HER house, to finally satisfy a court judgement against her husband, Matthew Cone.


We are going to pause for a moment to allow the fairer half of our readership to let that fact really sink in.


So, this seems a happy ending for Mr. Kramer and Texas Fueling Services, who got paid off, along with 18% interest, thirty-one months after delivering to Mr. Cone enough Diesel Fuel to fill a swimming pool. Texas Fueling Services remains in business today, having expanded into other product lines.


Matthew Cone, on the other hand, continued his fraudulent activities for the next decade, as we describe here.


Now, Matt Cone is running for the SBISD Board of Trustees, and is STILL backed by current Trustee John Perez, and Spring Branch Families PAC.


We think Mr. Perez and the leadership of Spring Branch Families PAC need to better explain their rationalle for backing a crook to be elected to our school board.


Let’s sign off with a remix of this gift that just keeps on giving:



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