Recently I wrote about the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The follow up has been interesting to say the least.
Its financial statements, filed with the court this week, list $40.7 million in assets and $24 million in liabilities, including $13.7 million for a health care plan for retired priests.
Attorney Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul implied the archdiocese engaged in a shell game during a bankruptcy hearing before Assistant U.S. Trustee David Asbach.
Anderson questioned archdiocese chief financial officer John Marek about the whereabouts of a $75 million account that last appeared on the archdiocese’s audited annual financial statements in 2003-’04. And he questioned the transfer of a separate $55 million into a newly created cemetery trust in 2008, a year after the Wisconsin Supreme Court opened the door for victims to sue the archdiocese for fraud.
Marek, who was hired by the archdiocese in 2007, could not answer questions about the $75 million. He said the cemetery funds had previously been in an account under the control of the archbishop but had always been “treated as a trust.”
What is clear is that there is a lot of property there and a number of people are making claims. What will be interesting is whether the church leadership is truly pushed by the bankruptcy court to make full disclosures. Compare how the local court went after Denny Hecker:
Hecker claimed poverty in a bankruptcy filing, but was accused of shifting cash and secreting assets before and after the filing. A pre-sentencing report said he misled authorities on cash transactions even after pleading guilty in September.
“The actions you’ve taken are not consistent with someone who can be trusted, and you have not been as truthful as you could have been in the court system,” U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen said at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
“Therefore, you do not get a break,” she told Hecker.
He is going to prison for 10 years and the bankruptcy court isn’t allowing any shenanigans. Let’s see if justice is blind to the parties.
Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.