Thursday, October 17, 2002

Erpenbeck agrees not to sell assets

Trustee cites recent trips

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Averting a confrontation Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, insolvent home builder A. William "Bill" Erpenbeck agreed not to sell any assets that could be liquidated to pay back his creditors.

The restraining order filed Wednesday with Bankruptcy Judge William Howard in Frankfort requires Mr. Erpenbeck to obtain the judge's approval before "expending, liquidating or spending" any assets. The order was sought by Michael Baker of Crescent Springs, the trustee appointed by Judge Howard to referee the case between Mr. Erpenbeck and creditors.

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After the demise of the Edgewood-based Erpenbeck Co. in April, creditors have filed lawsuits or taken other legal steps to recover more than $100 million in debts, mostly overdue bank loans and unpaid accounts with subcontractors. Three of those subcontractors filed a so-called "involuntary" bankruptcy case against Mr. Erpenbeck in July, claiming he had personally guaranteed a combined $405,853 in trade debt.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," said Randy Slovin, a Symmes Township lawyer who represents JP Flooring and Groundmasters. "But enforcement of the order will be difficult because we don't know what his income or expenses are."

Robert Albert Goering, a Cincinnati lawyer representing Mr. Erpenbeck in Bankruptcy Court, did not return phone calls Wednesday.

Mr. Baker told Judge Howard last week that he was concerned about Mr. Erpenbeck's recent trips to Key West and Cuba and the potential for other "wasting" of assets.

Mr. Baker said Wednesday he would seek a list of creditors from Mr. Erpenbeck, now a resident of Fort Myers, Fla.

Since early this year, the FBI has been investigating the collapse of the Erpenbeck Co. and possible bank fraud involving Mr. Erpenbeck and two former officers of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, John Finnan and Marc Menne. Peoples succumbed to the scandal and is selling its assets to the Bank of Kentucky. No criminal charges have been filed.


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