Since 1791, Ames Sword in tiny New London has been supplying military, police, and fraternal organizations with its trusty cutlasses. But by the time Russel Sword -- yes, that's his real name -- became president in 1995, the country's last remaining sword manufacturer was suffering from years of mismanagement. Reports weren't being completed. Mail wasn't being opened. And Ames was more than $700,000 in debt.
So the company filed for bankruptcy. It emerged five years later and has since settled with the IRS, state income- and sales-tax brass -- even Huron County, which recently lost 200 jobs at another New London company and doesn't want to lose the 15 at Ames.
In fact, everyone seems willing to work with the company -- except Attorney General Jim Petro.
Ames still owes the state for long-past-due workers' comp and unemployment premiums. But for years, The Laziest Man in Law Enforcement has refused to respond to the company's settlement proposals.
One might think that Petro would cut the company some slack after employees made the news for voluntarily spending a weekend customizing a sword for the family of a Marine killed in Iraq -- a job that normally takes 8 to 10 weeks. Instead, Petro decided to be an even bigger asshole. "That's when they started pushing," Sword says.
The state is refusing to compromise on the remaining debts -- around $200,000 -- while the company's still operating. (Petro's logic: We'd like to kill you off, so we don't get any money at all.) And now it's threatening to fine Ames $500 a day till the debts are paid.
"I don't know where to go from here," says Sword.
Here's a tip, Russel: Send a grand to Petro's campaign fund. Not only will your debts be forgiven, but there's a good chance the state will suddenly express an interest in investing $50 million in vintage swords.