WorldTies: Lawyer in contractor bankruptcy bows out
Lawyer in contractor bankruptcy bows out
Thursday, March 2, 2006
By PETER J. SAMPSON
A bankruptcy judge has granted a Bergen County lawyer's request to be relieved as counsel for a defunct construction company accused of bilking $2 million from a Little Ferry boat manufacturer.
Hackensack attorney Ronald I. LeVine had asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathryn C. Ferguson for permission to withdraw because of his client's "lack of cooperation" and refusal to pay for escalating services beyond the initial $2,000 retainer.
LeVine was retained last June by Angela Farinola to represent her business, United Mechanical Construction Co., in what appeared to be a routine Chapter 7 liquidation petition.
But the case turned out to be anything but ordinary.
The lawyer soon discovered that Hobby World Development Inc., a company run by followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, was trying to recover $2 million it claimed was siphoned from the construction of a boat factory by Farinola's husband, Leonard. The contractor served a three-month prison term in 2004 for bribing North Bergen officials.
The Farinolas, who deny any wrongdoing, initially filed for bankruptcy protection as individuals under Chapter 11, which allows for reorganization of their debt.
A bankruptcy trustee managing the couple's estate in the Chapter 11 case recovered about $1.7 million from Angela Farinola's assets, largely from the sale of a Little Silver home allegedly purchased with funds from United Mechanical's account. The couple has listed liabilities of $4.6 million.
LeVine said Robert Wasserman, a trustee charged with liquidating United Mechanical's assets for creditors, filed a claim in the Chapter 11 case based on his suspicions that the couple looted their construction company's funds.
The couple's liabilities included $1.6 million in mortgage loans, more than $910,000 in taxes and court-ordered restitution, and the $2 million disputed claim by Hobby World.
Funds recovered by Hobby World, the largest unsecured creditor, will have to come from the Farinolas' estate in the Chapter 11 case, Wasserman said.
Damian J. Anderson Damian.Anderson@...