Firm in Panama sues Hollis medical equipment firm

Skelley Medical moved to N.H. from Mass. at the behest of Gov. Lynch

A Hollis-based medical equipment company – once cited for its export efforts by the Obama administration and talked into moving to New Hampshire by former Gov. John Lynch – is the target of a federal lawsuit that claims it stole more than $350,000 from a Panama investment company.

The suit – lodged by the investment company, Pallas Global/PMG Distressed Asset Company S.A – was filed Oct. 24 in U.S. District Court in Concord. It alleges that Skelley Medical Company of Hollis, its founder and president, William F. (Bill) Skelley, and his son, William C. Skelley (who heads an investment fund in New York City and is a founder of Pallas, according to his LinkedIn page), used their positions as Pallas board members and agents to divert the funds, which were supposed to be invested in South Florida real estate.

Instead, the complaint charges, the younger Skelley personally authorized the transfers to his father’s company.

The Skelleys maintained that the $356,037.16 – transferred in seven different transactions from November 2010 to May 2011 – was a loan, according to the suit. But Pallas said that the loan agreement between father and son – with a 1.5 percent interest rate to be repaid in two months – wasn’t signed until May 6, 2011, after Pallas learned of the transfers.

“The Loan Agreement is a sham and nullity,” said the lawsuit. “It was never discussed or approved by a majority of disinterested Pallas board members or shareholders. Instead, it was created by those involved in the theft of funds from Pallas in an attempt to explain why such large transfers were made to William R. Skelley’s company, Skelley Medical.”

Pallas says but promises by the Skelleys to repay the funds were to “no avail.” It also says the defendants did not respond to demand letters sent to their lawyers in the middle of 2013.

Attempts to contact William C. Skelley were unsuccessful. His father, Bill Skelley, said he was “surprised” and “flabbergasted” by the suit, but would not comment further until he had a chance to see it. He also denied that he was ever a Pallas board member. NHBR sent him a copy of the suit, but he did not respond by deadline.

Bill Skelley founded Skelley Medical in 1997 as a way to address “the reduction of global healthcare costs by providing affordable comprehensive medical equipment solutions,” according to the company’s website.

Skelley originally located the company in Belmont, Mass., where he served as a member of the board of selectmen. But about seven years ago, Skelley met then-Governor Lynch on a flight to Chicago and confided in him his problems getting the town zoning board to approve expansion plans, according to several news accounts.

Lynch put him in touch with the state’s Business Resource Center, and with its help, Skelley Medical made the move to New Hampshire in 2007.

Following a 2010 trade mission to India with the U.S. Department of Commerce, President Obama cited the firm as benefiting from his National Export Initiative.

Since moving to the state, Skelley Medical has grown from three employees to 11 in New Hampshire, along with nine overseas, including five in India and one in Panama, according to Skelley’s interview with his former hometown newspaper in 2011.

In 2012, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized the firm as Exporter of the Year for both New Hampshire and New England, and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen touted it in May as the kind of firm that the Export-Import Bank – which was coming up for reauthorization – could help, though the bank does not currently list it as a beneficiary of the program on its website.

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