New details in fight over delinquent taxes

August 6, 2010 4:33:09 PM PDT
We have an update on a story we first brought you Thursday involving a heated confrontation caught on camera between a tax collector and a local businessman. The tax collector accuses Jim Rutherford of playing the system, side-stepping the tax laws, and using bankruptcy over and over again to avoid his financial responsibility.

We now have new information about the company involved and the man who runs it.

The company's attorney and owner told us Thursday that they would pay the $176,000 they owe the county by 5pm Friday. They didn't. As of a few minutes ago they still hadn't, but it is a company that's been busy.

"If you would have called, I would have paid it, you know that?" said Rutherford to the tax collector in the confrontation caught on video.

Rutherford, who owns Quality Infusion Care, Inc., claimed Tuesday that if the Harris County tax collector had called him before raiding his health care business with a tax warrant, he would have paid the more than $170,000 his company owes.

We told you Thursday that the county was ready to seize a Bentley and other luxury cars until the company quickly filed bankruptcy -- for the third time.

"Is it back to the Western cowboy days? Come on, I mean they come in here and threaten and start saying they're gonna start seizing all of your assets." Rutherford said.

"In the Wild West, we would have come in there a little more forcefully I think," said Leo Vasquez, Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector.

After our report aired on Eyewitness News Thursday, we decided to do a little bit more digging into Quality Infusion Care and its owner, Jim Rutherford.

He owns several other businesses whose registered addresses are in the same building as Quality Infusion Care. Two of them, we've learned, were six months late paying their taxes to the county but essentially took out a loan and paid the county in June.

"Again, it's disturbing that someone who clearly knows how to use attorneys, he apparently is running a pretty successful business, he can afford all these extra luxury vehicles, he had plenty of opportunity on a timely basis," Vasquez said.

Quality Infusion Care does use lawyers. Court records show that the company has been sued three times this year, was sued 10 times in 2009, and 15 times between 1999 and 2008. Most of the suits were breach of contract and another involved libel. Then there were the back taxes.

To be fair, Quality Infusion Care is one of hundreds of companies that the county says owe it a lot of money. In 2009 alone, more than $30 million in property taxes hadn't been paid. That number balloons to $88 million when go another 10 years back.

Rutherford told Eyewitness News Thursday that his company would be off that list 24 hours ago. That did not happen.

Despite a half dozen attempts Friday to reach Rutherford and his attorney, we have not spoken to the company about why it hasn't paid or how it defends the lawsuits currently against it.


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