Methadone clinic owner files for bankruptcy

By Stephen Betts | Aug 24, 2010

Rockland — The owner of the Turning Tide methadone clinic in Rockland, which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shut down last week, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Angel Fuller-McMahan of Owls Head filed the bankruptcy petition July 21. The clinic owner filed under Chapter 13 and seeks to have her debts restructured.

In her petition, Fuller-McMahan claims to have assets of $1,774,000 and liabilities of $910,528.

In response to one standard question on the bankruptcy petition, the owner said she did not have any property that posed a threat of imminent and identifiable harm to public health or safety. In announcing the closure of Turning Tide Aug. 19, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman said the suspension order was issued because of an "imminent threat to the health and safety of the public."

The bankruptcy paperwork, filed in U.S. District Court, states that Fuller-McMahan is the sole shareholder of Turning Tide Inc. with the current value of those shares at $400,000. She also lists a $750,000 note from Turning Tide Inc. as another asset valued at $750,000.

Fuller-McMahan lists her occupation as the owner of Turning Tide for the past six years. She lists receiving income of $21,900 from the business from Jan. 1 through July 7, 2010. Her income last year from the business was $26,171.

Other assets listed by Fuller-McMahan are her Owls Head residence, which she purchased in 2007 for $400,000, real estate in Rockland valued at $125,000, a lobster shop in Owls Head valued at $46,250, and unimproved land next to the shop worth $33,000. Other personal property includes a 2004 Cadillac XLR purchased in 2004 for $70,000, a 2000 Ford Escort and a 2002 Hyundai Accent.

Liabilities listed in the bankruptcy filing are a $576,000 mortgage on the residence, $150,000 owed to Coastal Enterprises Inc. of Wiscasset, which makes business development loans, and a $125,000 loan on the residential Rockland property Fuller-McMahan owns.

The bankruptcy filing was made by Fuller-McMahan, 42, one week after she was arrested July 13 and charged with felony possession of cocaine after police said she purchased about an ounce of cocaine. A drug counselor at the clinic, Carol Gardiner, 49, of Thorndike, was issued a summons three days later for felony attempted possession of cocaine that police said was connected to Fuller-McMahan's purchase.

When someone files for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, their aim is to have the opportunity to repay some or all the debts in their name, in better terms, such as lower or no interest, according to BankruptcyHome.com. Unlike Chapter 7, which involves liquidation of assets, this process involves restructuring debts, which allows the debtor to use whatever income they may have in the future to pay off the creditors, the Web site states. Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is thus applicable for a debtor who has a regular income, and can afford to request such adjustments or reductions.

A telephone call was made to Fuller-McMahan's attorney Jeffrey White on Aug. 23 for comment. No call had been returned the morning of Aug. 24.

Methadone clinic update

Guy Cousins, the director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, said that as of Aug. 20 at 1 p.m., 81 percent of Turning Tide's patients had been referred to other methadone clinics and the remainder of the cases were being worked on.

Turning Tide was serving about 280 people with opiate addictions when the clinic was closed.

Cousins said state law allows the office to suspend a license for up to 30 days without a hearing. Turning Tide has 30 days to appeal the decision. The state would then need to go to court to suspend the license for a longer period. That process would be handled by the Maine Attorney General's Office, Cousins said.

Turning Tide also has 30 days to appeal the suspension of its license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Cousins said the office has received a few calls from other providers asking how to contact Turning Tide.

"There's no question, there is a documented need for these services in the area," Cousins said.

He said any agency that is interested in establishing another methadone clinic in Rockland knows it may face similar opposition to what Turning Tide faced when its project was first proposed.

There were protest marches in the months after Fuller-McMahan announced in November 2004 her plans for opening Turning Tide. The project was stalled when the Rockland City Council approved zoning to limit methadone clinics to the city's one-half mile stretch of Route 90.

Turning Tide filed a federal lawsuit claiming that law was a violation of federal law including the Americans with Disabilities Act. The council eventually voted 4-1 in January 2006 for a zone change to allow the clinic to operate at the former Tuttle Shoe Barn at the Rockland-Thomaston town line. Councilor Adele Grossman Faber was the sole vote against the zone change, arguing that the city was not discriminating in its prior zoning vote. Voting for the change were Mayor Brian Harden and Councilors Carol Maines, Eric Hebert and Hal Perry.

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