In September 2011, radio Troubleshooter Tom Martino talked to us about filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Months later, Martino sued two creditors he believed had accused him of fraud, and a trial in the first case finally got underway last week, only to be stayed by settlement negotiations. Meanwhile, a man who'd unsuccessfully sued Martino for emotional distress and more had his case against a onetime Troubleshooter associate thrown out as well.
Martino's reported liabilities at the time of his bankruptcy filing added up to $78 million, with creditors including First Citizens Bank, which took over his loans from another institution, Colorado Capital Bank, and International Bank. Three months later, 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.
First Citizens Bank & Trust in downtown Denver.
Well over a year of back-and-forths and public bickering followed before the trial got underway last week, with the Denver Post reporting about claims and counter-claims. The Martino forces were buoyed when Ken Whitelam, a onetime executive for Colorado Capital Bank, said he couldn't point to a document proving that Martino had been guilty of fraud, while the bank's team was presumably pleased by the Troubleshooter's refusal to acknowledge that he'd signed certain paperwork during 2006 and 2007 -- supposedly because his relationship with the bank was so close he hadn't needed to do so on every occasion.
But then, following a lunch break on day two, Martino's team asked the judge to postpone the case to give both sides an opportunity to conduct settlement negotiations.
What happened? Martino declines to comment, but a source tells us that members of his legal team told their opposite numbers they'd consider dropping the lawsuit if bank representatives agreed to accept a share of the bankruptcy proceeds. Talks are underway and if they bear fruit, they are likely to be completed in another week or two, with a deal potentially serving as a template for avoiding another trial with International Bank.
Continue for more about the lawsuits filed against Martino and a former associate. At least Martino avoided a similar court trip related to a lawsuit against him by Sheldon Chrysler, an ex-pal who describes himself as being "a victim of multiple economic crimes," as well as being "an 'at risk' disabled senior citizen and military veteran...dealing with mental health issues" prompted in part by the passing of his twin brother, Barry.
Art for a book Sheldon Chrysler wrote about his relationship with his twin brother.
As we've reported, Chrysler's suit accuses Martino of harassment via phone calls and e-mails over a series of years. Here's an example of one such e-mail, from May 2009....
By the way. Fuck you for believing a piece of shit over a friend of 20 years. It is no wonder you ruined your relationship with your twin. Don't blame Ron. It was all you. You are a negative failure and should deal with it.
In a ruling released last month, Denver District Court Judge J. Eric Elliff conceded that such comments were unkind. But in his view, they didn't rise to the level of "outrageous conduct" and therefore tossed out the case.
In a statement afterward, Martino wrote: "This should have never risen to the level of a lawsuit. It was simply a disagreement between people. Sheldon sued me out of anger because I discovered he was a two-faced friend and called him out on it. However, I took the wrong approach. I should not have written such a mean-spirited letter. It was childish and wrong. It obviously hurt his feelings and I am sorry for that. I harbor no resentment and will not be seeking legal fees."
Even as Chrysler's suit against Martino was put to rest, one he filed against Chris Kane, a former Martino staffer who now fronts the Haystack Help project affiliated with CBS4, was still pending. As we've noted previously, the suit asserted that a loan Kane made to Chrysler violated Colorado law, because any loan with an interest rate above 45 percent is considered usury.
But in an order issued last week, Denver District Court Judge R. Michael Mullins determined that the statute of limitations on filing suit over the matter had expired. The last loan Kane made to Chrysler was inked in January 2008, giving him until January 2011 to formalize a complaint -- but Chrysler didn't take such action until June 2012.
Chrysler is distressed by both rulings. Via e-mail, he writes, "Things are pretty much over for me. I've lost most everything. Just took off the eviction notice posted on the door of my former house. I can't prevail in court on most anything."
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As for Martino, we should know within weeks whether he'll reach an accommodation with the bank or be back in court, ready to fight another day. And there are more potential opponents waiting in the wings.
More from our Media archive: "Tom Martino, self-declared Troubleshooter, talks about his bankruptcy, being humbled."