A rift between the Leisnoi Native Corporation and a timber company contracted to log around Chiniak is headed to court after A1 Timber filed a lawsuit this week alleging breach of contract. The move comes amid the surfacing of a telephone recording in which Leisnoi’s leadership brags about a plan to oust the timber company and bankrupt its owners. KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.
— leisnoi lawsuit pkg 4:48 "An excerpt … logging to resume. I’m Jacob Resneck."
An excerpt from a conversation between Leisnoi’s leadership and an Idaho-based timber consultant has garnered nearly 2,000 hits in the three days since it was posted on YouTube.
The conversation was back in November when Frontier Timber of Post Falls, Idaho was embroiled in a lawsuit with A1 Timber’s Tom Loushin. In the tape, Leisnoi CEO Carol Pagano and her husband Leonard Zaiser discuss their plan to force A1’s Tom Loushin out and take over the Kodiak logging operation themselves.
That’s Clarence Maxey of Frontier Timber who recorded the call. State laws in Idaho and Alaska allow a telephone conversation to be legally recorded provided one of the parties consents. On the call, Maxey can be heard expressing his surprise that relations between Leisnoi and A1’s Tom Loushin had gotten so bad.
Leisnoi CEO Carole Pagano declined to comment and referred questions to an attorney who did not respond on Thursday.
Later in the tape Zaiser, who holds no known position at Leisnoi, boasts of running the corporation with his wife the CEO.
Leisnoi board President Jay Baldwin also had no immediate comment. He said he’s consulting with his attorney and would hold off speaking publically until next week.
All of these revelations come as the Chiniak logging operations have been at a standstill since December. Last May Leisnoi and A1 Timber agreed to a $15 million dollar deal in which 100 million board feet of logs from Kodiak Island would be cut and shipped to Asian markets.
But to date, only a fraction has been harvested, according to Matt Claman, an attorney representing A1 Timber.
This week Claman filed a lawsuit on behalf of A1 alleging that last October Leonard Zaiser threatened to "kill" the contract unless A1 pay him a premium from A1’s profits. Loushin refused and from the November telephone conversation it’s apparent that relations had deteriorated. Here’s Zaiser talking to Maxey.
— tape – spreading rumors
At the time of the November conversation Maxey was embroiled in his own dispute with A1. But that’s since been settled and Maxey says Loushin’s good faith shown in the settlement spurred him to release the tapes as a wake up call.
Maxey denies any financial interest in the either Leisnoi or A1. Rather, he says it’s time for parties to settle and everyone get back to work.
Meanwhile A1’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage seeks at least $75,000 in damages plus an injunction forcing Leisnoi to allow logging to resume.
I’m Jacob Resneck ###