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Follow Suit

Posted 8/29/2001

With the bankrupt Bibelot bookstore chain now nearly liquidated and millions of dollars in debt still outstanding, creditors are going after the personal assets of owners Brian and Elizabeth Weese to recover their money. On Aug. 23, four creditors--including Bank of America, which sued the Weeses earlier this year, claiming they had fraudulently sheltered assets with relatives and offshore banks--filed a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore to force the couple into personal bankruptcy. Among the other petitioners are Allfirst Bank, Community Banks of Millersburg, Pa., and MART L.P., a subsidiary of Lutherville-based Mid-Atlantic Realty Trust, Bibelot's landlord at its former Timonium Crossing store.

Timothy McCormack of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander, the attorney representing MART, says creditors are pursuing the Weeses' personal holdings because they personally backed a substantial portion of Bibelot's debts, and efforts to get money out of the business--of which very little remains following liquidation of its inventory this past spring--have failed. "I believe that all of the creditors that joined the involuntary petition hold claims against Bibelot. They aren't being paid because Bibelot is in bankruptcy, and each of those claims is guaranteed by the Weeses," McCormack says.

Under federal bankruptcy law, the Weeses have 20 calendar days after being served with the bankruptcy petition to contest it. To avert the bankruptcy, they have to prove that they are solvent and making good on their debt obligations--something McCormack says they'll likely be hard-pressed to do. Lease payments to his client, at least, are in default.

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