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‘Perkins’ labyrinth of ownership

The stipulation reached between Perkins and 5171 Campbell Land Co., Inc. isn’t going to go unchallenged.

In addition to a formal objection filed in federal court, a trustee for the United States has raised concerns about whether Campbell “engaged in any scheme to hinder, delay or defraud the creditors.”

The objection was filed on July 14 by Marc Group, LLC which claims, in short, that it owns Campbell and that the Campbell’s principal, William Kane, is attempting to enter into an agreement that he “does not own.”

It then requires a bit of a rabbit hole to figure out who actually owns what.

And, according to a trustee representing the United States, it isn’t clear.

Marc Group, LLC’s filing states that an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas proceeding transferred Campbell to an individual named Peter Kaplan, who sold it to Steve Maglin, who subsequently transferred to Marc Group, LLC.

That would mean that Kane filed bankruptcy on a company he doesn’t own.

Andrew R. Vera, acting United States trustee, filed a motion for the appointment of a Chapter 11 trustee on July 12 that sheds some light on the relationship.

First of all, Vera’s filing states that the court “should not approve the stipulation until a determination has been made regarding” the trustee appointment “and consideration as to what is in the best interest of all creditors.”

He notes a judgment against Campbell of $231,790.75 to L-Four, L.P. Stemming from a promissory note, a default of $139,143.84 of funds Kane received from Kaplan and a breach of contract filed by Maglin, who was a “former executive” with Unique Ventures, whose bankruptcy paved the way for Campbell to acquire the restaurants. All of those are in Allegheny County court.

A fourth Allegheny County case brings Marc Group, LLC back into the picture. The trustee reported that the complaint in that case indicates that Kane “borrowed $125,000 from Peter Kaplan and the rest from another individual” and claims that Kane’s equity in Campbell was “transferred to Mr. Kaplan….”

Vera wrote that he “takes no position at this time regarding whether the assets were effectively transferred to Kaplan and/or Marc Group; however, the United States Trustee is concerned about the nature of these transactions and whether there was an attempt to improperly transfer assets or defraud creditors.”

He argues that a trustee should be appointed “to take control of the financial affairs of the debtor to determine whether the debtor’s principal engaged in any scheme to hinder, delay or defraud the creditors… And determine whether this case has a viable path to a reorganization or should be converted to a chapter 7 liquidation.”

The trustee wrote that Campbell has “selected and sought retention of a Chief Restructuring Officer. In this case, an independent fiduciary is needed to investigate the financial affairs of the debtor, not operate under the control of the debtor’s principal, cover up past problem and pack up the debtor for a sale. This will not address the glaring financial and corporate mismanagement that has occurred with respect to this estate. The state needs an independent fiduciary to work for the benefit of all creditors.”

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