Tri-Cities entrepreneur Kristopher Lapp is accused of pocketing $505,000 meant to pay for Hanford work in a third lawsuit filed against him and his Kennewick company.
The lawsuit filed this week in Benton County Superior Court brings the claims against him to more than $1.8 million.
The latest claim was made by E2 Consulting Engineers of California, which provided staff to Hanford contractors CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. and Mission Support Alliance on behalf of Lapp’s company i-3 Global of Kennewick.
E2 Consulting is asking the court to have a trust take over the accounts and assets of i-3 Global and Lapp that are related to the money it claims it’s owed. A trial is set for May 2020.
Lapp did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor has he returned calls from the Herald in recent weeks.
E2 Consulting said that in July i-3 Global stopped paying the invoices it sent for five staff members it had working at Hanford on behalf of i-3 Global.
When i-3 Global did send checks for the work in February and again in March, they bounced, according to the lawsuit.
I-3 Global and Lapp knew by at least April 11, and likely much earlier, that it would no longer be able to pay its subcontracts, the lawsuit said.
Taxpayer money paid to i-3 Global
But i-3 Global continued to encourage E2 Consulting Engineers to provide services and made false promises about the money owed, the lawsuit said.
The money involved comes from taxpayers.
CH2M and Mission Support Alliance, which are required to subcontract out some work to small businesses, were paid by the Department of Energy for the staff work. It then paid i-3 Global, a small business, for the work.
I-3 Global certified to CH2M and Mission Support Alliance that it had paid the money forward to its own subcontractor, E2 Consulting Engineers, whose staff actually did the work, according to the lawsuit.
The $505,000 covers the work of a safety specialist, a health physicist, a work activity planner and a mechanical engineer at CH2M and an electrical planner at Mission Support Alliance.
E2 Consulting said it repeatedly demanded payment starting in the summer of 2018.
“Each time, plaintiff was provided with various explanations regarding the deficient payments and the promise the payments would soon be made,” the lawsuit said.
I-3 Global said it had issues with a new line of credit in August. In September it said its bank was dragging its feet. In mid-October it said payments would be made that week.
When payments were made in February, the deposited checks were returned for insufficient funds, the lawsuit said.
I-3 Global said it had forgotten to update its accounting software when it changed banks. However, new checks issued in March also bounced, according to the lawsuit.
On April 9, E2 Consulting Engineers gave i-3 Global 15 days to pay or it would pursue legal action.
I-3 Global said it would make a “sizeable payment” by April 20, the lawsuit said.
Instead, i-3 Global notified MIssion Support Alliance on April 11 that it could no longer continue providing services, even as it encouraged E-2 Consulting Engineers to continue providing services, the lawsuit said.
2 other lawsuits
Lapp knew then that i-3 Global lacked the money to maintain its business, the lawsuit said.
Lapp faces additional trials in April 2020 on lawsuits filed by Integrated Global Staffing of Kennewick and Columbia State Bank.
Integrated Global also provided staff to fulfill i-3 Global contracts at the Hanford nuclear reservation site.
It is owed nearly $450,000, but invoices it sent to i-3 Global from August 2018 to January 2019 were not paid, it said in court documents.
Integrated Global also claimed that Mission Support Alliance had paid i-3 Global for the work and that i-3 Global had kept the money.
The bank lawsuit said that i-3 Global and Lapp borrowed $700,000 in October 2017 and now owes $883,200, which includes interest and fees. Interest on the unpaid loan is accruing at a variable rate that was at $280 a day when the bank filed suit early this month.
Lapp is well known in the Tri-Cities. He serves on the Columbia Basin College Foundation board and on Richland’s economic development committee. He also applied for a vacancy on the Kennewick City Council, but was not picked.
He posted this spring on the Facebook food-themed blog he writes, #lappdaddyapproved, that he was a partner on the Pasco Taco Crawl 2019 fundraiser.
Last year, his company was responsible for the social media management, photography and more for the Water Follies hydroplane races.
I-3 Global was given a national DOE award in 2017, being named Protege of the Year for 2016. The company was founded in 2013.
Mission Support Alliance and i-3 Global had a formal mentor-protege arrangement under a DOE program that encourages large businesses to mentor small businesses to help them grow.