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Apache Corp. is suing Stag operations manager James C. Mann and his ex-wife, Robbie L. Ward, a Stag owner. Courtesy photo/San Antonio Express-News

Oil-field services firm, owner file Chapter 7

Patrick Danner | The  San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio oil-field services company accused in a lawsuit of participating in a “massive fraud” against Houston oil and gas company Apache Corp. has filed for bankruptcy liquidation.

Stag Energy Services LLC filed for Chapter 7 earlier this month, listing a little more than $1 million in assets and nearly $3.6 million in liabilities.

Apache last month sued the now-defunct Stag, Stag operations manager James C. Mann and his ex-wife, Robbie L. Ward, a Stag owner. Also named in the suit is Chad Walker, a one-time Apache construction foreman.

Apache alleges the parties stole more than $1 million through various schemes in the Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin. Apache claims Stag billed it for work never done, overstaffed projects and “played fast and loose” with monies intended for subcontractors.

Stag provided oil-field services including renting tools, pressure pumping, contract drilling and trucking.

Mann’s lawyer has called the case nothing more than a billing dispute. Ward’s lawyer has said she did nothing wrong. In a court filing, Walker denied he participated in a scheme to defraud Apache.

Stag’s bankruptcy filing was signed by Steven Staglik, who owns 51 percent of the company. He has not been sued by Apache, the suit says, because it’s “not clear that (he) was aware of the fraud committed against Apache.” He has cooperated with Apache’s investigation, the suit adds.

Robert L. Barrows, Stag’s bankruptcy lawyer, was out of town and unavailable for comment Thursday.

Separately, a day before Stag’s filing, Ward filed her own Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. She listed assets of almost $1.2 million and liabilities of $3.7 million. She owns 49 percent of Stag.

Related: Apache suit alleges contractors conspired with inside man in “massive fraud” in Ector County

Guillermo A. Flores Jr., Ward’s bankruptcy lawyer, said the filing was mostly prompted by her personally guaranteeing some of the debts in different businesses that her ex-husband ran.

Companies affiliated with Mann, 38, and Ward, 40, included Bronco Services LLC and Double M Services LLC. As part of Mann and Ward’s divorce, which was granted last month, Mann took over complete ownership of those companies, Ward’s bankruptcy filing states.

“She was in some businesses that she didn’t actively participate in,” Flores said. “Ms. Ward herself had very little knowledge or information about what was going on in almost all of the instances.”

Apache representatives have said they believe Ward was complicit in the alleged schemes.

Ward is a local criminal-defense lawyer and a former assistant U.S. attorney, Flores said.

Besides the Apache suit, Stag, Ward and Mann have been named in at least three other lawsuits seeking to collect on debts. Stag and Ward’s bankruptcies, however, put a halt to the litigation.

Among those that have sued is Moulton-based Lone Star Bank, a major lender for Stag.

Lone Star’s claim in Stag’s bankruptcy is listed at more than $590,000, while the bank’s claim in Ward’s bankruptcy is about $668,000.

Apache’s claim in Stag’s bankruptcy is listed at $745,000. Another big creditor is San Antonio Armature Works Inc., which holds a claim of about $351,000, the filing shows. The IRS is owed almost $25,000.

Ward is listed as a creditor in Stag’s bankruptcy, with a nearly $204,000 claim as a result of a personal loan. The claim is disputed.

pdanner@express-news.net

Twitter: @AlamoPD