Update below: On Saturday, the Denver Post ran a front-page story featuring a bank's accusation of asset-shifting by KHOW host and self-described Troubleshooter Tom Martino, who recently filed for bankruptcy on reported liabilities of $78 million -- a figure he disputes. Martino denies any such actions, and he also disputes a separate allegation that a similar game was played in a previous bankruptcy filing by his now-wife, Holly Whitrock-Martino.
"It's a complete lie," says Martino, "an absolute lie from someone who hates us" -- Holly's former husband, Mike Willis.
At this writing, Martino is attacking Willis on his radio show; at one point, he dubbed him "evil." In addition, he began denigrating this item well before its publication.
The Post report (preceded by a Denver Business Journal piece that contained many of its elements) involves a filing by International Bank, one of his creditors. The report reads in part, "International Bank believes the Debtor (Martino) may have transferred certain assets to Ms. Martino with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud International Bank and other creditors and/or without receiving reasonably equivalent value in exchange." Among the assets listed by the bank, the Post piece continues, were "a house worth $4.3 million, furnishings and art worth $750,000, three aircraft with combined value of $725,000, Friesian horses worth $100,000, a Bentley Arnage car worth $200,000, cash accounts holding $4.6 million and real estate equity of $11.7 million."
In response, Martino told the paper that the only asset he transferred to Holly was the home, and said this action took place in 2008, before his current round of financial difficulties hit. He otherwise denied wrongdoing and accused International Bank of trying to "muddy the waters" and "discredit me."
During his radio program today, he criticized the Post for not sharing a letter from another creditor, Colony AMC, suggesting that Martino had been negotiating in good faith to resolve his issues with the institution before a smaller, more aggressive creditor forced him to file for personal bankruptcy. Westword also received a copy of this document from a source requesting anonymity. It's on view below.
As for Willis, he's clearly no Martino fan. He didn't initiate contact with Westword in the wake of the latest report; I phoned him, not the other way around. But he had read the Post article, and says the International Bank allegation called to mind Holly's bankruptcy, filed in late 2004 -- "except on a smaller scale," he allows.
Willis says he and Holly were still married when she became involved with Martino. (By the way, Holly's Facebook page includes two individuals in a list of people who inspire her: Martino and Jesus Christ.) After her divorce was final, she filed for bankruptcy in an effort to distance herself from potential liability for Willis's debts. "I had a couple of business loans," Willis recalls. "Holly's name wasn't on them, but Tom was afraid it would come back on her somehow. It seemed kind of silly to me to file bankruptcy, but he said, 'I'm going to have her do this.'"
By the way, Martino remembers a meeting with Willis at a restaurant, but says the topic was the divorce, not the bankruptcy.
In the divorce, Willis says he gave Holly "probably a couple hundred grand in household goods and stuff... And because I was a party to the bankruptcy -- they had some of my debts listed -- I got the papers, too. And she had all her debt listed, for things on credit cards and stuff. But she didn't list any assets. And I thought, 'Wait a minute. I had to give her a bunch of stuff in this divorce. That doesn't seem right.'"
Shortly thereafter, Willis continues, he called the bankruptcy trustee. "He said, 'We'll go to him and make him address this.' And then I asked, 'Isn't that bankruptcy fraud?' And he said you'd have to go to the FBI and file charges about that. So I went to the FBI, but they never opened a formal investigation."
Why not? "The agent I was dealing with told me, 'Mike, because you blew the whistle on them, they have now modified the bankruptcy,'" listing the assets that hadn't been included previously. "'And because the bankruptcy hadn't been finalized before you blew the whistle, there's technically no fraud.'"
Martino's response? Rather than getting into the specifics of Willis's story, he speaks in more general terms. "I was not involved in the bankruptcy," he says. "Holly went through a bankruptcy for her husband's business debt before she married me. He hates her and he hates me and he's making up lies. Anyone right now can make up lies about me, and I'm powerless to do anything about it. People who hate me can still attack me. But none of it is true." And then he hung up.
Update, 11:31 a.m. September 26: Moments ago, we received the following note from Holly Whitrock-Martino:
"First off, the man you are talking to is a hateful person who told our friends that he prayed I had a miscarriage with my first child with Tom. He is 'Mr. Smoke and Mirrors.' Mike Willis NEVER HAD millions, EVER, so how could I have gotten that in a divorce? He was MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in debt, his business was failing. I HAD to file for BK [bankruptcy] because of HIS debt. Not mine. In fact, I paid all of my consumer debt to the trustee. Check your facts. Please do your investigation before ruining my reputation."
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Some clarification regarding this statement is in order. Willis does not say his former wife received "millions" in a divorce settlement. Instead, he is quoted as saying she received "probably a couple hundred grand in household goods and stuff" -- assets he says weren't initially listed in the bankruptcy filing, but were later added after he contacted the trustee and the FBI. Moreover, Willis acknowledges that his wife filed for bankruptcy in order to distance herself from his debt, not hers. Moreover, the post makes no assertion that Whitrock-Martino failed to pay her consumer debt to the bankruptcy trustee. Rather, Willis quotes a conversation with an FBI agent, who told him no bankruptcy fraud took place.
Look below to see the bank document lauding Martino. It can also be accessed by clicking here.
More from our Media archive: "Tom Martino, bankrupt Troubleshooter, to be featured speaker at wealth-building convention?"