U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marilyn Shea-Stonum didn’t like what she saw after reviewing the amount of money recently collected in the years-long $200 million Fair Finance Co. fraud scandal.
Not quite $6 million currently sits in a money market fund set up for the estate of the bankrupt Akron business. About 5,300 Ohio residents bilked out of more than $200 million in the case have yet to get any of their money back.
“Thus far the recoveries have been hugely disappointing,” Shea-Stonum said Tuesday during a regular monthly bankruptcy court hearing on the case in the federal building in downtown Akron. The hearing with Cleveland-based bankruptcy trustee Brian Bash and other lawyers took place using a telephone conference call in open courtroom; besides court staff, the only person in attendance was a newspaper reporter.
Since mid-March, some $3.55 million came from a recently approved civil settlement with former Fair Finance Co. owner Donald Fair. Beyond that, Shea-Stonum noted that the bankruptcy trustee in the past month recovered another $61,000 that was deposited into the account.
“I want to understand resource management from your perspective,” Shea-Stonum said to Bash. “To put it bluntly, a large portion of the staff availability in my chambers has been devoted to this case. That’s my job and the job of my chamber staff. ... Please help me understand, what is needed to get meaningful recovery, if there is meaningful recovery, for the holders of claims in this case?”
Bash said he and his staff continue to try to find and recover significant amounts of money for the estate. The trustee noted that they are involved in lawsuits that, if won, could bring in millions.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544.