Last week, we noted that KHOW's Tom Martino was negotiating a bankruptcy settlement for a 2011 Chapter 7 filing on reported debts of $78 million. He's now made a $3.6 million-plus deal that allows him to retain his Troubleshooter network and some pricey doodads. We asked him for a response to this development, and his reply blends rationalization and responsibility. He admits, though, that in some ways, he was his own worst financial enemy.
As we've reported, Martino's creditors included First Citizens Bank, which took over his loans from another institution, Colorado Capital Bank, and International Bank. Three months after his September 2011 filing, he sued both in part to determine if his debt was dischargeable, and also because he felt the banks had implied that, among other things, he'd tried to protect assets from seizure or liquidation by listing them under his wife's name.
Well over a year of back-and-forths and public bickering followed before a trial in regard to the First Citizens lawsuit got underway in January. But on the second day of what looked to be a contentious legal exchange, Martino's team asked the judge to postpone the case to give both sides an opportunity to conduct settlement negotiations that came to fruition this week.
According to the Denver Post, Martino eventually ponied up $3.6 million, with another $1.88 million to be distributed in 36 monthly payments -- and he'll get a $200,000 discount if he hits the $1.68 million mark by the end of 2014.
The transaction leaves the online Troubleshooter Network and Referral List in Martino's possession; they're valued at $450,000. And while he also gets to keep his helicopter and antique airplane, he may not have anywhere especially spiffy to put them, since, as the Post points out, he'd previously parted with his own personal hangar at the behest of a judge.
In an e-mail to Westword, Martino expresses no bitterness about saying goodbye to so much of his wealth to settle the matter.
"From the very beginning of my financial problems in real estate, I desired to settle my debt," he writes. "I owed the money and it was the right thing to do. I basically had three commercial creditors. Two of them bought my debt from failed banks for pennies on the dollar. They will make a handsome profit and deserve it. The other creditor will come close to breaking even.
"I am determined to pay this off as soon as I can," he adds.
As for how he got into a fiscal thicket in the first place, he maintains that "I was caught up in a perfect storm. We had the worst recession in U.S. history, real estate values plummeted and two of my three lending banks failed. All of my loans were called due at around the same time and no banks would refinance my underwater property. No one ever plans or even expects this to happen. But it did happen and I got caught."
This comments suggest that Martino thinks circumstances were entirely at fault for his bad fortune. But he adds that "I learned a lot. While I would like to blame it all on the economy, the truth is, I had the power to stop when I was a dollar ahead. Instead, I kept on investing, believing I could not fail. It was arrogance mixed with greed that was my recipe for trouble. Life is a great teacher and I have been humbled by the experience."
Martino notes that "I have totally changed my outlook on finances. I have learned that nothing is totally safe or assured. My investments now are mostly in myself and my broadcasting brand, which has been my foundation."
Nonetheless, Martino remains upset by allegations of malfeasance when it comes to the original bankruptcy filing.
"What is really important is that the creditor who started a flood of accusations insinuating that I was fraudulent never came forward with any evidence," he maintains. "International Bank was quick to defame me but short on substance. I provided that creditor with financial information going back ten years, including thousands of documents. In the end, in my opinion, all they really did was stir the rumor pot with lies to fuel my detractors.
"On the other hand," he continues, "all of my sponsors, true friends and a record number of listeners stood by me and believed I would ultimately come out of this without any findings of wrongdoing."
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Whether "a record number of listeners" continue to tune in Martino is debatable. During his heyday, his program was nationally syndicated, which is no longer the case -- and that's not to mention the end of several regular TV gigs. But after more than a year of headlines about the consumer advocate's money difficulties, he's still standing, still fighting, still shooting trouble. And he's still got a helicopter.
More from our Media archive: "Tom Martino negotiating lawsuit settlement as case against ex-associate is tossed."