The state Auditor and Inspector’s office has filed a complaint seeking to censure, revoke or suspend the certificates of authority for nine abstract companies operating in Eastern Oklahoma.

The companies are those in which Steven Phipps, Phipps Enterprises, Gene Stipe, Larry Witt and Idabel Abstract Co. have an interest.

Certificates of authority grant permission from the state for companies to operate as an abstract company and to issue legal certificates of abstracts. Without the certificates of authority, the companies cannot legally operate.

State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan directed his office to initiate the complaint procedure.

Abstract companies in Wilburton, Stigler, Antlers, Hugo, Idabel and Stillwater were named in documents filed by his office.

The matter will be heard either by an administrative hearing board, a member of McMahan’s staff, or by McMahan.

State law directs the auditor’s office to take the action if he finds evidence of a state or federal felony conviction.

Stipe has 2004 federal convictions of conspiracy to obstruct a federal election commission investigation, perjury, and conspiracy to violate the federal election campaign act, according to documents filed in the case.

The issue of the abstract companies came up after Stipe filed suit in Pittsburg County district court on July 18 naming Steve Phipps, Phipps Enterprises, Inc. and Corporate Financing Group, Inc. as defendants in the court action.

In the Pittsburg County court petition, Stipe stated that he and Phipps are partners in a joint venture that owns and operates abstracting and title insurance companies in Oklahoma.

On Aug. 26, in an answer to the Stipe allegations, Phipps admitted that he and Stipe were partners engaged in the ownership and operation of abstracting and title insurance companies within the state, according to the complaint filed by McMahan’s office.

Documents filed by McMahan’s office state that the stock of Phipps Enterprises is half-owned by Phipps, of Kiowa, and Stipe, of McAlester.

The stock of the other company named in the complaint, Corporate Financing Group, Inc., is owned one-third each by Phipps, Stipe and Witt, of Stillwater, according to the state auditor’s office.

Stipe did not respond to a call for a comment by press time. He’s filed a motion asking for a receiver and a temporary restraining order in the suit he has filed against Phipps, Phipps Enterprises, Inc., and the Corporate Financing Group.

Attorney Phillip Whaley, the attorney for Phipps Enterprises and the affiliated abstract companies, issued the following statement:

“Mr. Stipe’s convictions have put Mr. Phipps, the abstract companies and the employees of those companies in a difficult position,” Whaley said.

“Mr. Phipps brought this matter to the attention of the appropriate authorities some time ago and has been attempting to resolve the matter ever since.”

“Mr. Stipe then brought an unfortunate and baseless lawsuit that only further jeopardizes the companies and their employees,” Whaley alleged in his written statement.

Whaley said he looks forward to resolving the issues in the administrative proceedings initiated by the state auditor.

McMahan’s office identified and included the following certificates of authority and companies in the complaint he signed:

• No. 33, held by Latimer County Abstract Co., Inc., with its principal place of business in Wilburton. Phipps is identified as the president of the company.

• No. 109, held by the Oklahoma Abstract and Title Co., Inc., with its principal place of business in Stillwater. Phipps is identified as the president of Oklahoma Abstract.

• No. 120, held by Choctaw County Abstract and Title Co., Inc., with its principal place of business in Hugo. The president of Choctaw County Abstract is identified as Phipps.

• No. 121, held by the Payne County Title Co., Inc., with its principal place of business in Stillwater. Phipps is identified as the president of Choctaw Abstract.

• No. 124, held by Guaranty Abstract Company of Stigler, Inc. Guaranty Abstract has its principal place of business in Stigler. The president of Guaranty Abstract is identified as Phipps.

• No. 125, held by Meurer Abstract and Title Co. Inc., with its principal place of business in Stillwater. Witt is identified as the president of Meurer Abstract.

• No. 139, held by Southern Abstract and Title Co. Inc., with its principal place of business in Idabel. Phipps is identified as the president of Southern Abstract.

• No. 147, held by University Land Title Services, Inc., with its principal place of business in Stillwater. The president of University Abstract is identified as Witt.

• No. 148, held by Pushmataha County Abstract Co. Inc., with its principal place of business in Antlers. Phipps is identified as the president of Pushmataha Abstract.

The stock of Latimer Abstract, Choctaw Abstract, Guaranty Abstract, Southern Abstract and Pushmataha Abstract is held by the Idabel Abstract Co. Inc., with its principal place of business in Idabel, according to documents from the auditor’s office.

Idabel Inc. also maintains offices in Stigler, Hugo, Antlers and Wilburton, the documents state. The president of Idabel, Inc., is identified as Phipps.

The stock of University Abstract is held by Payne Abstract. The stock of Oklahoma Abstract and Payne Abstract is held by the Stillwater Abstract and Title Co. Inc., with its principal place of business in Stillwater. Phipps is identified by the auditor’s office as the president of Stillwater, Inc.

The stock of Meurer Abstract is held two-thirds by Phipps Enterprises and one-third by Ry-son Oil Inc., with its principal place of business in Stillwater. Witt is identified as the president of Ry-son, Inc.

The Stock of Stillwater, Inc. is held by the Corporate Financing Group, Inc. with its principal place of business in Stillwater. The president of CFG is identified as Witt, according to the auditor’s office.



Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

Recommended for you