By Rosemary K. Otzman
Besides the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy he filed on July 19, disbarred attorney Thomas A. White, 45, of Van Buren Township, now has seven more cases filed against him in that court.
As the Oct. 28 deadline loomed for creditors to file to be pulled out of the bankruptcy proceedings and given separate status and rulings, seven cases were filed.
• Oct. 9, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Thomas J. Tucker signed a consent judgment against White for $166,573.95 at the request of Anna F. Dziubek. The judgment was signed the same day she filed the complaint.
• Oct. 10, Joseph and Amy Buttigieg filed a complaint against White and are seeking a ruling that their debt of $7,200 is non-dischargeable by the Bankruptcy Court. They say White paid himself $7,200 from their credit card, when he was supposed to pay himself just $500. White had 30 days to answer the complaint.
• Oct. 22, Olivia Ross filed an adversary complaint against White, saying she hired White to assist her with a homeowner’s insurance claim for fire damages. ECRS paid him $2,000 and he also got $1,685.41 from Classic Cleaners. Ross said White advised the payers to make the checks payable to him and he kept the money. She seeks a determination that the $3,685.41 debt is non-dischargeable by the court.
• Oct. 24, the Estate of Thomas John Garrett and Michael Garrett, personal representative, filed an adversarial complaint against White, who was retained by Debra and Daniel Garrett in a contested estate case. White convinced Debra and Daniel to invest $290,000 from the estate with him for his Jani-King business, even though it caused $80,000 in penalties when they cashed it out of the mutual funds it was invested in. He reportedly told them they would receive $3,600 a month, which was better than the current investment. He turned over representation in the Thomas Garrett estate to another attorney, since he said it was a conflict of interest since he was in business with the Garretts. White invested $35,000 to purchase the Jani-King investment and Debra Garrett paid the total initial investment and was to get only 25% share of the business. White received 75% share of the business and admitted under oath that he used $176,000 of the money on his own personal obligations. To date Debra has not received anything from her investment with White. After repeated demands by the personal representative, White eventually returned $75,000 back to the Estate of Thomas Garrett. White still owes the estate $216,000. An Aug. 14, 2013 a consent judgment in Monroe County Probate Court assigned the estate interests of Daniel and Debra Garrett to Michael Garrett. So, Michael Garrett is asking the Bankruptcy Court to enter a non-dischargeable judgment against White for the $216,000, with Michael and his brother Daniel sharing the proceeds equally.
• On Oct. 25, Matthew Copeland filed an adversary case seeking determination of discharability for $8,500 he paid White for legal services in 2010-11 to use the funds to arrange settlement of debts owed to various creditors, which White didn’t do. He did not perform any legal work and just kept the money. Copeland had been forced to pay additional sums to resolve his debts.
Seeking deadline extension
Also on Oct. 25, the law firms of Daniel Singer & Associates and Cohen, Lerner & Rabinovitz, along with creditors Ed Gallaway, David Gallaway, Marilyn Lange, Margaret Sawicki, Ronald Gallaway and Dennis Gallaway, as well as additional clients, filed a motion to extend the deadline to seek discharge from the bankruptcy proceedings from Oct. 28 until Dec. 12, to give them time to work with all the additional clients that have turned up due to the publicity surrounding the White case.
This filing gives 14 days for response if someone involved doesn’t want the time extended.
The creditors named filed a lawsuit against White in Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit Court and White failed to plead or otherwise defend himself and a default judgment was filed on April 10, 2013.
This case involved funds from an uncle that were turned over to his caregiver. White became involved representing the plaintiffs saying he would sue Chemical Bank for releasing the funds and plaintiffs paid him $9,000. He sued, but Roscommon County Circuit Court dismissed the case against the bank and found against the plaintiffs, as well as White for sanctions in an amount just over $10,000. White never told the plaintiffs about any sanction judgment.
White paid the amount of the sanctions to Chemical Bank’s attorneys with a $10,000 cashier’s check from Charter One Bank in Belleville just before the law suit was filed against him.
Probate Court in January 2012 said the settlement to the plaintiffs was to be at least $194,656 in named annuities, $93,113 in a final accounting as presented to the Probate Court in Roscommon County by his conservator prior to his death, and $23,000 pursuant to the sale of a van.
Since January 2012 White has made more than 15 promises to distribute the awarded dollars to the plaintiffs, but they have received nothing. Just before the lawsuit was filed in December, and after repeated attempts to get a fee schedule with White saying Chemical Bank would pay his fees, White presented a bill for $200,000 in fees, saying he was holding their money as “leverage” until he was paid.
Additional creditors, who potentially have claims against White have not been listed as potential creditors in his petition or in any amendments he made.
The law firms are currently interviewing 50-60 additional clients to review their respective claims and intend to file one overall adversary case against White with some or all of the additional clients, as well as the creditors named above.
The law firms sought a stipulation to the extension of the deadline through White’s bankruptcy attorneys, Gold, Lange & Marjoros, on repeated occasions in the last 60 days and finally got a formal denial on Oct. 21. That gave the law firms just a few days to file for an extension with the court.
• On Oct. 28, the Gallaways, etc. filed a 26-page adversary complaint against White asking for an order to determine discharability of debt. They are seeking $310,769.
• On Oct. 28, the Estate of Eileen E. Kuchta and her Personal Representative Alisa Renier filed to have a debt of $253,992 found non-dischargeable by the Bankruptcy Court. Renier was listed as a creditor by White, but Eileen Kuchta was not. The filing said White received $390,000 in money and property in the settlement of the Kuchta estate and kept $253,992 of that. Since the law allows treble the damages, along with costs and attorney fees, they are asking for a judgment of $761,976. Attorney is John R. Badeen of Xuereb Law Group, Canton.
Error in reporting
Last week, the Independent reported that Bankruptcy Court Judge Tucker signed an order granting relief to Robert and Gloria Coppock so they can move forward with getting back the house they own at 41305 Savage Road, Van Buren Township, where White lives.
Actually, Judge Tucker has yet to sign that order, although he is more than a month late for taking action on the request by the Coppocks’ attorney to either sign or deny their request to have the house taken out of the bankruptcy proceedings.
White stopped paying the land contract on the property and also stopped paying property taxes.
He also owes several years of personal property taxes to the City of Belleville, where his office had been located at 35 Main Street.
Meanwhile, the Michigan State Police have more than 50 people who have come forward to charge White with criminal activities and those cases are being studied, with some cases expected to have warrants signed by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
White’s preliminary exam on the original five felonies has been postponed until Nov. 13 at 34th District Court in order to bundle together all the charges for “judicial efficiency.”
White is out on bond after paying 10% of the $20,000 set by Judge David Parrott. Since has yet to have a preliminary exam, White has yet to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the felony charges concerning forging signatures and keeping money belonging to the late Leland Jordan and his wife Judith A. Jordan of Belleville.
By Rosemary K. Otzman