Celebrities Who Have Filed Bankruptcy

It might surprise you that Teresa Guidice of Real Housewives of New Jersey is not the only celebrity who has filed for bankruptcy.  Many people would have diverse opinions about celebrities seeking bankruptcy protection while they live in the opulent luxury of their 20-room mansions, wine and dine in the finest restaurants while jet-setting around the globe every year.  Other celebrities who have gone before Guidice down the road of bankruptcy include:
1. Tough guy Don Johnson of Miami Vice and ex-husband of Melanie Griffith filed for bankruptcy in 2004 because he did not want to lose his $20 million Pitkin County Ranch in Colorado.  The ranch was due to be auctioned to settle Johnson’s debts when he filed for bankruptcy, eventually saving his ranch and paying off his debts.
2. Tammy Wynette (‘Stand by Your Man’) filed for bankruptcy after the failure of her investment in two Florida malls that went south.
3. Actor Burt Reynolds, who ironically was once an item with Wynette, filed for bankruptcy after his divorce from Loni Anderson in the mid 1990s.  Anderson and Reynolds have one son together.
4. Lorraine Bracco of the Sopranos had openly discussed her financial problems and fight with depression.  She filed for bankruptcy protection after a long-drawn legal custodial battle with her ex-husband Harvey Keitel over their daughter, Stella.  It was the show, the Sopranos that eventually enabled Bracco to pay off much of her debts after her bankruptcy in 1999.
5. Did you know talk show host Larry King filed for bankruptcy in 1978?  In fact, King was in debt to the tune of $352,000 (a princely sum in the 1970s), charged with grand larceny and stealing from his business partner.  The charges were later dropped.
6. The late Anna Nicole Smith lost a sexual harassment case against a former employee in 1996.  The court ordered Smith to pay $850,000 in damages.  She filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of that.  She has two children.
7. Britney’s mother and manager, Lynn Spears and her husband filed for bankruptcy in 1998 just before daughter Britney became famous (sometimes for all the wrong reasons).
Everyone is entitled to bankruptcy protection under the law, whether you’re famous or not.  If you are struggling with insurmountable debts, give us a call to discuss your financial options.  Bankruptcy may be one of them.  Call us at (813) 200-4133 for a free consultation or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.

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Bankruptcies in Florida

Developers of Artecity Condos File for Bankruptcy

Artecity is a partially-completed 202 unit condominium project in Miami Beach whose developers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy recently in efforts to avoid foreclosure of the project.  The Artecity project developer’s lawyers stated that 93 of the units are presently under contract and the developers have raised $2.7 million from original investors in order to finish the project.

But a group of creditors, led by Starwood Capital and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) filed a lawsuit to seek foreclosure of the project in March.  The group owns the loan on the project, which was part of the $4.5 billion in troubled loans taken over from Chicago-based Corus Bank after it failed last year.

The Artecity loan was originally $60.3 million taken in 2005.

Creditors Fear the Worse in Bankruptcy Court Proposal

A bankruptcy court’s proposal to write off $300 million worth of loans to Innkeepers USA Trust given by securitized lenders has precipitated fear among creditors that more of such debts would be written off.

This proposal affects the entire community of lenders giving loans based on commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) to big real estate companies.   These lenders would rather renegotiate the terms of their loans or at the very least recover their loans in the form of properties.  But with the bankruptcy court ruling, holders of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) worry that approval of the Innkeepers USA Trust plan would set a precedent in such cases and lead to more of such loans being written off in future.

The Innkeepers USA Trust plan involves repaying Lehman Bros in full for the $238 million loan given by them.  Furthermore, the now-bankrupt investment bank will be given part ownership of the Palm Beach hotel company.  Under the plan, Lehman Bros, whose own bankruptcy in 2008 was the biggest and most devastating in US history, would agree to fund $17 million out of $67.75 million required by the company for renovations.

Analysts foresee that the bankruptcy court’s approval of Innkeepers’ plan would embolden other major real estate firms that own lots of property to take the bankruptcy path to force the write-downs of their loans to avoid repaying their lenders.

Whether you are an individual or a company, bankruptcy is a viable option under the law for your financial difficulties.  Call us at (813) 200-4133 for a free consultation or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.

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Housewives Star Teresa Guidice Exits Bankruptcy

Teresa Guidice of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ and her husband Joe are ready to make a fresh start after the star emerged from bankruptcy.  The couple filed for bankruptcy protection in October last year after a series of failed real estate investments left them $11 million in debt.
In an entry in her blog, the 38-year old Bravo reality star stated, “It’s not a fun or an easy process.  If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be involved in a legal situation, you know it’s a lot of back and forth between both sides.  Right now, our bankruptcy trustee is trying to get an auction going, and our lawyer is objecting it.  Every day, there are new tactics used, stories circulated, and details ‘leaked’ to the press, but it’s all part of the legal wrangling.  All I can do is rise above it, keep my head high, and know that at the end of the day, I have my family, my health, and I’m in God’s hands.  Nothing else matters, certainly not a lamp.”
Guidice went on to say, “We worked so hard for so many years and it was heartbreaking to file, and not something we took lightly.  Of course you can’t sit in your bed and just cry all day, so we moved forward, got new jobs, and are working hard once again.  The point is to get a fresh start so you can move forward.”
Despite putting up the contents of their mansion for auction, the last episode of the show showed the couple celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary where Joe bought Teresa a diamond and took her for a flight on a private helicopter.
The star is involved in charities, some of which are Project Ladybug, charities for pancreatic cancer, autism, AID for AIDS International, the Red Cross and Clean the World, to name a few.  This September, Guidice will be spending her Labor Day weekend at My Big Gay Italian Wedding for four days in a row for charity.
Guidice has had her fair share of controversies.  Recently a charity complained about her alleged unwillingness to appear for them unless she was paid.  But Guidice has strongly denied the allegation, saying she had never heard of them.  According to Guidice, the charity contacted the agent who books her in clubs and was told he does not do charities.  He then told them to contact Guidice directly, which the star maintains is easy to do through her website.
If you are having financial difficulties, consider bankruptcy as a way out.  Contact us for a free consultation at (813) 200-4133 or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.


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Bankruptcy Events

Ex-DOJ Official Appointed Washington Mutual Bankruptcy Examiner

When Washington Mutual Inc. filed for bankruptcy on September 25, 2008, it became the largest US banking failure.  The bankruptcy filing arose as a result of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) seizure and sale of Washington Mutual’s banking unit to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion.
Over the two years since, the shareholders of Washington Mutual have felt that they were given a raw deal and have been seeking the court’s intervention to appoint an examiner over the case.  Their request was granted when US bankruptcy judge Mary Walrath gave the orders for the appointment of an independent examiner in Delaware who is tasked to review a recent settlement to enable Washington Mutual to reorganize and look into related claims.
As such, the Office of the US Trustee, which is part of the Justice Department, appointed Joshua Hochberg, one of the former top officials in the criminal fraud unit of the US Department of Justice as the examiner in charge of Washington Mutual Inc.
Under US bankruptcy law, an examiner holds less power than a trustee and is appointed when it is in the creditors’ interest.  Just before he was appointed Examiner, Hochberg sold off his 300 shares in JPMorgan.
Early this year, Washington Mutual had made settlement proposals to its disputes with the FDIC and JPMorgan.  These settlements brought about the reorganization plans where Washington Mutual’s creditors stand to recover up to $6.8 billion whereas the shareholders would not receive anything.  This is despite the fact that Washington Mutual has assets worth up to $30 billion in the opinion of the shareholders.

Uno Pizza Exits Bankruptcy

After 6 months in bankruptcy, Boston-based Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp announced its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Uno Restaurant Holdings is the owner and operator of Uno Chicago Grill, the makers of the well-known Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  In the bankruptcy process, the company has managed to reduce its debts by more than 50% from $176 million to $40 million.  It also has acquired new majority owners, namely Twin Haven Capital of Los Angeles.
A bankruptcy judge has approved of Uno’s restructuring plan paving the way for its exit from bankruptcy.
After the bankruptcy, the company produced two new products in a brand new menu it put out this month.  The two new products were a line of frozen entrees and handy microwavable mini-calzones called Tastefuls.  Plans are underway in the next few months to expand its fast-casual concept of dining called Uno Due Go and its quick-service concept called Uno Express.
Many individuals and companies have overcome their financial problems through filing for bankruptcy.  If you wish to consider the bankruptcy option, call us for a free consultation at (813) 200-4133 or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.

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    Albuquerque Studios Apply for Bankruptcy

    Albuquerque Studios, where well-known movies like ‘Terminator Salvation’, ‘The Book of Eli’ and ‘The Spirit’ were shot, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  However, Hal Katersky, CEO of Pacifica Mesa, the owners and operators of the studio insists that business will go on as usual.  He is hoping for more movies to move in to shoot at the 168,000 square feet studios located in the southern Albuquerque border.  At present, the remake of the 1980s horror movie, ‘Fright Night’ is being shot there.

    Pacifica Mesa filed for bankruptcy in Los Angeles just days before a scheduled auction was to take place, citing debts of nearly $105 million.  The company alluded to the economic recession and the company’s financial burden to repay a property loan that fell due as the primary reasons for filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    In their bankruptcy papers, it was shown that about 30 creditors from New Mexico and Hollywood are owed money.  The bulk of their debts arise from loans for the construction of their property which cost $90 million to build.  The largest creditor is Amalgamated Bank of New York, from whom Pacific Mesa borrowed $80 million in a property loan.  The second largest creditor is the Workers Realty Trust who is owed more than $23 million.  Workers Realty lawyer Louis Puccini Jr. said the figure is closer to $24 million after taking into consideration interests and penalties.

    There are other creditors include very minor ones like a sign making company to whom Pacific Mesa owes a paltry $16 and a catering company who is yet to receive payment of $30,000 for their services to Pacifica Mesa.  The local government of Bernalillo County is also a creditor to the tune of more than $300,000 as is Dreamworks SKG of Hollywood who is owed $75,000.

    Chapter 11 bankruptcy is the section of the bankruptcy law that gives companies the protection from creditors they need while they reorganize themselves to pay off their debts.  While the company is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, creditors are not allowed to make any collection attempts.

    CEO Katersky revealed that Pacifica Mesa is negotiating with Amalgamated Bank of New York for additional financing while Workers Realty is not willing to have any part in this.  Eric Witt, the governor’s director of Media Arts and Industries, expressed how vital it is for Albuquerque Studios to continue its production as scheduled.

    If you or your company wish to explore bankruptcy as a means to get creditors off your back and be allowed some room to reorganize yourself, call us at (813) 200-4133  for a free consultation or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.

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    General Growth Properties Set to Exit Bankruptcy

    Baltimore mall owner General Growth Properties is planning to emerge from bankruptcy protection this year.  Under its reorganization plan, analysts believe that the property giant will be in a better position to buy up failing properties and attract new tenants to its own malls.  The company which owns the most malls in Baltimore including Harborplace and the Gallery in Baltimore and The Mall in Columbia, rejected various offers to buy out, including one from rival operator Simon Property Group, in favor of continuing its own operations.
    General Growth filed for bankruptcy protection last year with a debt of $27 billion.  If its reorganization plan is confirmed by the bankruptcy court, it would have this figure significantly reduced.  Nevertheless, General Growth may have to sell off some of their under-performing malls.
    Despite the economic climate, General Growth invested a lot into upgrading some of its malls.  The company renovated Mondowmin Mall in 2006 which involved a total overhaul of the interior and an expansion to the premises.  With this increased space, the mall could accommodate a Target and a Shoppers Grocery store.  At Towson Town Center, the company opened a110,000 square foot luxury wing in 2008 and managed to draw in high-end retailers Louis Vuitton and Burberry while Tiffany & Co. plans to open there in the fall.
    Other malls that have not done well include once-popular outdoor mall the Village at Cross Keys and Ownings Mills Mall.  Anchor tenants J. Jill and Ann Taylor have left the Village and most of the stores in Ownings Mills are vacant.  In the battle of the malls, Ownings Mills lost out when Saks Fifth Avenue left it in the early 1990s and Towson Town Center brought in Nordstrom around the same time.
    Likewise, Cross Keys faces stiffer competition these days than in its heyday years ago.  Analysts believe General Growth is keen to sell provided they can find a willing buyer.  Even Harborplace and the Gallery were put up for sale at one point but officials of the company have now said these properties are no longer on the market.  They each have their own challenges.  Harborplace is finding it difficult to achieve the right mixture of tenants that would pull in both the locals and tourists while the architectural design of the Gallery makes it difficult to lease out its top floors.
    The bankruptcy judge reviewed General Growth’s reorganization plans in August paving the way for the company to emerge from bankruptcy in October.
    Do you want relief from your debts, stop the harassment of creditors and get your finances back in good standing?  Get help filing for bankruptcy.  Visit us at http://tampabankruptcy.pro or call us at (813) 213-4133 for a FREE consultation.


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    Areas of Highest Number of Small Business Bankruptcies

    There are approximately 24 million small businesses in the United States.  A small business is defined as a business having less than 100 employees.  California topped the list of states with the highest number of bankruptcies among small businesses.  However, other geographical regions also experienced an increasing number of bankruptcies in many cases outpacing major markets like Los Angeles and Phoenix.
    A study was conducted that showed the bankruptcy trends in metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) from the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of this year.  In this study, 11 of the top 15 MSAs with the highest number of small business bankruptcy filings showed an increase in the bankruptcy filing rate year on year.  Among the top 15 MSAs in total, there was an increase of 10.4% in the number of small business bankruptcies from 5,789 to 6,391 bankruptcies from the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010.
    However, there were a few MSAs that improved in the number of bankruptcy filings for small businesses.  Among them were Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, Seattle/ Bellevue/ Everett and Washington/Arlington/Alexandria/D.C. that dropped off from the first quarter’s list of top 15 MSA’s for small business bankruptcy in 2009.
    The MSA regions that lead the nation in the number of bankruptcy filings among small businesses are Los Angeles, San Bernadino/Riverside and Sacramento.
    But a disturbing trend is seen among smaller markets where the percentage increase in small business bankruptcy filings exceeds even that of California’s troubled markets.  Among such MSAs are Springfield, MA; Manchester-Nashua, NH and Green Bay, WI.
    In contrast, here are the 15 MSAs with the lowest number of bankruptcy filings among small businesses:
    1. Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV
    2. Gainesville, FL
    3. Charleston, WV
    4. Lafayette, LA
    5. Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL
    6. Baton Rouge, LA
    7. Ann Arbor, MI
    8. South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI
    9. Amarillo, TX
    10. Lubbock, TX
    11. Columbus, GA-AL
    12. Binghamton, NY
    13. Fort Smith, AR-OK
    14. Alaska – Rest of State
    15. Lynchburg, VA
    Each of these recorded 12 or less small bankruptcy filings in the first quarter of this year.  The bankruptcy filings include all types of bankruptcies namely Chapter 7 bankruptcy which is where the small business liquidates its assets to pay off its debts and Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies where the individual or company pays of debts under a schedule over a period of up to five years.
    If you are struggling financially under heavy debts, consider bankruptcy as a way out.  Call us at (813) 200-4133 for a free consultation or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.


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    Successful Bankruptcy Process for Zayat

    Zayat Stables, the nation’s third highest grossing thoroughbred horse racing owner, will emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy completely paying off its creditors 100%.  This is an outstanding achievement for the stables after it sought bankruptcy protection a mere few months ago in February.
    Back then, Zayat owed its creditors roughly $50 million and had about the same amount in total assets.  Its largest creditor is Fifth Third Bancorp to whom it defaulted on a loan of $34.2 million.  Other creditors include Kentucky-based Keeneland Association Inc, the largest thoroughbred auctioneer in the world who is owed $2.4 million and others to whom Zayat owes $1.2 million in total.
    The US bankruptcy court for the District of New Jersey recently approved of Zayat’s Chapter 11 reorganization plans after Fifth Third Bancorp granted its consent to it.  Under the reorganization, Fifth Third will be fully paid off by 2014 while other unsecured creditors will be paid in full over the next 2 years without interest.
    Its owner, Ahmed Zayat expressed his optimism and excitement over the prospect of building upon recent successes of the company in building for the future.  The Stables earned about $6.3 million out of 113 wins in 573 races last year.
    Ahmed Zayat started his business career in a major way by buying over Al-Ahram Beverages Co. from the Egyptian government in 1997.  Five years later, he sold the brewery to Heinekin NV for $287 million.  He went on to form Zayat Stables in 2005, pumping in some $40 million into the company.  The Hackensack, New Jersey based company now owns 203 thoroughbred horses valued at $37 million.  Its revenue for last year was about $21 million which makes it the third highest earner behind Darley Stables and Godolphin Stables.
    One of Zayat’s horses, the Pioneer of the Nile came in second behind Mine that Bird in last year’s prestigious Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown.  In this year’s Derby, another Zayat horse, Eskenderaya was the early favorite before having to be retired due to a leg injury.  Jess Jackson, the well-known California vintner bought an interest in Eskenderaya.  Jackson is the owner of two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin and current Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra.
    The case is Zayat Stables LLC 10-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).
    If your business is going through financial difficulties and you have debts you cannot repay, you can file for bankruptcy protection like Zayat did.  Bankruptcy is your right under the law.  Call us for a free consultation at (813) 200 4133 or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.

    Bankruptcy Trustee Alleges Guidices Fraudulently Filed Documents

    The court appointed trustee in the bankruptcy filing of Housewives actress Teresa Guidice and her husband Joe filed papers that allege the Guidices “knowingly and fraudulently” made ‘false oaths’ or ‘accounts’ when filing their original bankruptcy petition back in October of 2009 and went on to make additional false ‘accounts’ on amendments filed after the original petition while under oath during subsequent hearings.

    The celebrity couple filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection listing more than $11 million in debts.  At the same time, they claim they do not have any bank accounts, did not disclose all their businesses or their income from the year they filed for bankruptcy, did not provide details of a contract with a Bravo production company and Teresa did not disclose the book deal she signed where she was paid an advanced payment of $250,000 for ‘Skinny Italian’, among other things.

    According to the trustee, the Guidices have made ‘multiple amendments’ to their petition but in none of them did they reveal any information pertaining to Teresa’s ‘Skinny Italian’ cookbook deal, the advance she received amounting to a quarter of a million dollars, the publishing deal they had with Hyperion, the company Teresa was running called TG Fabulous LLC and the fact that Joe had an interest in one of his own properties.

    Furthermore, the trustee also recorded that Joe and Teresa included their 2006, 2007 and 2008 individual tax returns with their bankruptcy filing but the IRS confirmed never receiving these returns from the couple.  The court documents are silent on whether the Guidices have failed to file joint tax returns with the IRS.

    As such the trustee focused on the couple’s original petition’s financial statement that stated Joe earned more than half a million dollars in 2008.  In the opinion of the trustee, this income coupled with what Teresa earned from her online boutique, TG Fabulous (incorporated in 2009) and for her role in Real Housewives of New Jersey, was enough to pay for their debts.

    The bankruptcy trustee filed three counts against the Guidices that alleged they were involved in “Transferring, removing, destroying, mutilating, or concealing with intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors or the case trustee”.

    He also filed a fifth count which is an objection to the discharge.  The trustee based this on “failure to explain satisfactorily any loss of assets or deficiency of assets to meet the defendant’s liabilities”.   This is another way of saying the trustee does not support the couple’s petition to have their debts discharged through bankruptcy.

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      Warring Factions in Tribune Bankruptcy Plan

      Two warring factions are filing motions in relation to Tribune Co’s application for approval of its reorganization plan.  Firstly, the unsecured lenders of the media conglomerate who supplied $1.6 billion in financing for its 2007 leveraged buyout (LBO) are making claims related to the LBO.  Secondly, Tribune Co. themselves who have submitted their reorganization plan to bankruptcy court judge Kevin Carey for confirmation.

      The unsecured lenders have filed a motion to ask Judge Carey to decide Tribune’s objections to their LBO related claims as part of the confirmation process.  Their rationale for this was that having a separate hearing on their claims after confirmation would be a waste of time and money.

      On the other hand, Tribune Co’s lawyers filed an opposing motion seeking to limit the motion on whether to confirm its reorganization plan to just 5 days.  They Tribune lawyers argued that the unsecured lenders were only trying to sabotage the plan confirmation process with their own long-drawn hearing on LBO claims which other parties are keen to avoid.  All other parties have entered into Tribune’s proposed “global settlement”, which is the basis of the reorganization plan.

      Judge Carey declined to make any ruling on the opposing motions but said that he expects to look into the matter at an August 9 hearing.  The judge conceded that there is no way to fully avoid bringing up arguments over the potential claims related to the leveraged buyout in 2007 organized by real estate mogul Sam Zell but indicated that he would not hold a full trial over the matter at the confirmation hearing scheduled to begin August 30.  The LBO took Tribune private but left it laden with debt.

      Junior bondholders have alleged that the banks that supplied the funds for the LBO, JPMorgan, Bank of America and other banks, committed fraud because they knew the LBO would lead to Tribune’s insolvency.  Tribune’s committee of unsecured creditors initially took up claims against the banks but later withdrew it as part of the settlement that allowed Tribune to go ahead with filing its reorganization plan.

      If Tribune’s reorganization plan is confirmed, JPMorgan and distressed-debt specialist Angelo, Gordon & Co. would be among the new owners of Tribune’s media arms, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, other daily newspapers and broadcast stations.  In addition, Centerbridge Partners, which leads a group that owns outstanding senior bond debt, would own 7.4% of the Tribune.  In return, Centerbridge would forego all its claims related to the 2007 buyout.

      Bankruptcy is a legitimate way to solve your company’s debt problems.  If you wish to file a petition for bankruptcy to overcome your company’s financial crisis, you need an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.  Call us for a free consultation at (813) 200 4133 or visit http://tampabankruptcy.pro.