U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents and officers from the Camden Police Department (CPD) entered the Old Armory Steak & Seafood restaurant on Rutledge Street around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday and seized the business.
CPD Chief Joe Floyd confirmed the approximate time the seizure took place, his officers’ assistance to the IRS and the fact IRS agents were back at the restaurant Wednesday morning. Floyd said he could make no other comment because the IRS had the lead on the case.
An April 9 court order signed by U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. authorized IRS Revenue Officer Christopher R. Webb and/or other designated IRS employees to “seize and enter the premises occupied by Demetrious Voulgarelis (doing business as) Old Armory Steak & Seafood … in order to: seize the business’s property and leasehold, seize and inventory personal property, and to conduct a distraint sale of the seized property on said premises in satisfaction of unpaid federal taxes.”
Distraint is defined as the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of money owed.
Voulgaleris, who lives in Lexington, is the restaurant’s owner by virtue of being the registered agent and president of a, technically, dissolved limited liability corporation called Three Friends of Camden Inc. An examination of documents from the Kershaw County Registrar of Deeds Office show Voulgarelis and Three Friends of Camden owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in not only back federal taxes, but state and unemployment taxes as well.
Voulgarelis, doing business as Old Armory, owes the federal government up to $278,207 in back taxes, based on four notices of federal tax liens filed with the registrar of deeds office in 2014. The missed tax payments listed in those filings date back to 2008. Additional filings against Three Friends of Camden Inc. list another $256,755 worth of liens for taxes which should have been paid in 2010 through 2014.
According to further registrar of deeds records, the Old Armory Steakhouse may still owe $12,735 in state taxes from 2010 and 2011. It may also owe up to $73,561 in unemployment taxes to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) from 2008 and 2011 through 2014.
However, DEW Public Information Director Adrienne Fairwell said businesses do not necessarily owe the total amount of back unemployment taxes shown on “tax executions” such as those filed at the registrar of deeds office. Fairwell said a business may make payments on those taxes, but DEW would not file a satisfaction notice until the entire tax is paid. A S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) representative indicated the same could be the case with outstanding state taxes.
The same may be the case regarding the federal tax liens -- Voulgarelis and Three Friends may have made payments on the federal tax liens, but there are no satisfactions listed because they have not been entirely paid.
The C-I could not confirm this is so, however, because Mark Hanson, a media relations contact at the IRS’ regional office in North Carolina, said he could not discuss Old Armory specifically. Hanson would only speak generally, saying tax liens are a “snapshot in time” and may not reflect additional penalties accrued nor any payments toward liabilities.
Voulgarelis bought the restaurant in 2006 when it was known as The Paddock, with partners David Ives and Bobby Ouzounidis as Three Friends of Camden Inc. Neither Ives nor Ouzounidis are listed in the seizure, which lists only Voulgarelis doing business as Old Armory Steak & Seafood.
The building, which literally used to be Camden’s old armory, is currently owned by BDD Real Estate LLC, listed at the same address as the restaurant, of whom the registered agent is S. David Ives. BDD bought the property for $260,000 from Vanrich Inc. in 2006. The restaurant later expanded by adding a side patio dining area.
The mortgage for the 2006 purchase covered more than just the restaurant. It also included financing for two homes, one in Richland County owned by Ouzounidis and one in Kershaw County owned by Ives. Ives and Ouzounidis signed the mortgage on behalf of BDD.
A later mortgage filed in April 2008 included the Rutledge Street restaurant, the Kershaw County home owned by Ives, and the former site of Mad’s Restaurant on Market Street. This mortgage is signed on behalf of BDD by Ives and Voulgarelis, indicating both as “authorized members” of BDD Real Estate LLC. Later transactions do not contain Voulgarelis’ name or signature.
It is unclear if Voulgarelis is still a member of BDD Real Estate. Representatives of the S.C. Secretary of State’s office said limited liability corporations are not required to list all the members of an LLC or incorporation.
However, if Voulgarelis is still a member of BDD, the IRS may have seized both the business and the real estate on which it is housed. The court order authorizing the seizure states “both real estate and personal property, tangible and intangible are subject to levy,” meaning real estate could be seized in order to satisfy the unpaid tax debt. Generally speaking, real estate is seized along with the businesses they contain.
In September 2011, Three Friends of Camden filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy in order to deal with debt from five creditors, including the IRS and SCDOR. Voulgarelis signed the petition. At the time Voulgarelis’ attorney filed the petition, Three Friends listed $185,283 in debt to the IRS, $12,000 to SCDOR, $2,000 and $4,000 to two food service companies; and $9,000 to a local certified public accountant.
Based on documents on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s South Carolina website, Three Friends filed a report in early December 2012 claiming it had paid $205,058 in priority tax payments, along with about $35,000 in attorney’s fees and other secured and unsecured payments. The filing served as Three Friends’ request for a final decree from the court to close the case.
A month later, however, the United States trustee filed an objection to closing the case, stating that while Voulgarelis claimed he had mailed a quarterly fee, the system the government used to track such payments showed it had not been received. In the objection, the trustee asked the case to either be dismissed -- removing Voulgarelis and Three Friends from bankruptcy protection -- or to convert it to Chapter 7 bankruptcy where business assets are liquidated.
In early February 2013, a bankruptcy judge set a final decree closing the Chapter 11 case, ending the court’s jurisdiction and stating all quarterly fees due the U.S. trustee be paid current “through the date of entry of this order.”
Federal, state and unemployment taxes are not the only financial troubles Voulgarelis has faced.
According to online Kershaw County Courthouse records, Auto-Owners Insurance Company of Myrtle Beach filed a debt collection against Voulgarelis and Three Friends of Camden just weeks ago on March 30. A check of the file at the Kershaw County Courthouse showed a debt of nearly $3,100. Supporting documentation noted, as of Feb. 7, 2014, Voulgarelis and Three Friends’ bank did not honor a $2,867 payment.
Online Richland County court records show the dismissal of a 2009 collection case involving a food service company in 2010 against Voulgarelis and Santorini Grill, a Columbia restaurant he once owned which is no longer in business. In December 2010, Voulgarelis and Santorini Grill were ordered to pay another food service company more than $17,600. That case was simultaneously filed in Lexington County.
In 2014, a case filed by CACH LLC -- a debt collection company -- against Voulgarelis was dismissed in Lexington County.
Attempts to reach Voulgarelis for comment by press time Thursday were unsuccessful.