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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2001

Dogged by suspicion, lawsuits, Bergsmark quits Mud Hens board

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The embattled board chairman of the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team resigned last night during a meeting in the downtown Toledo Club.

Edwin Bergsmark, 60, also resigned his board membership, said Michael R. Miller, board president.

“We thank Ed for his vision and guidance through the years, and especially in the club's efforts to move the team to Fifth Third Field,” Mr. Miller said.

The team, the top minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, will move to a new downtown stadium in April.

Mr. Bergsmark could not be reached for comment.

In recent months, Mr. Bergsmark, chairman and chief executive officer of Cavista Corp., has been confronted with a series of setbacks.

In September, Toledo police initiated a probe of Mr. Bergsmark's dealings in a failed plan involving the city of Toledo to promote home ownership in the central city, which had been examined in a Blade investigation. Police turned over their investigation to the Lucas County prosecutor last month.

Prosecutor Julia Bates said the investigation of Mr. Bergsmark and a former city housing commissioner, James Thurston, has been expanded to other projects.

Earlier this month, three area banks filed lawsuits against Mr. Bergsmark.

Sky Bank-Mid Am Region sued Mr. Bergsmark on Dec. 7 for allegedly withdrawing $1.37 million in accounts established for residential mortgages.

Fifth Third Bank sued him on Dec. 11 for allegedly defaulting on loans totaling $1.9 million.

The bank alleges that Mr. Bergsmark defaulted on more than $7.7 million in loans and underreported Cavista's losses by about $1 million. The bank has offices in Toledo.

In the 1980s, Mr. Bergsmark was a top official with Trustcorp, which was bought by KeyBank in 1989 after the company went belly up. Mr. Bergsmark was later banned from banking for his role in Trustcorp's demise.

Mr. Bergsmark has been ordered to appear in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Thursday to hear the KeyBank complaint.

“It's unfortunate,” said Sandy Isenberg, president of the board of Lucas County commissioners, which has a partnership with the Mud Hens. “He did contribute a lot, and he was a strong supporter of the Mud Hens.

“I'm not surprised he resigned the chairmanship. He probably felt it was best for the club with all the negative publicity ... He has a good sense of priority. But I'm surprised he left the organization altogether. I feel bad for his family, his associates, and the people who had a great deal of faith in him.”

Mr. Bergsmark was elected to the seven-member Mud Hens board in 1988. He was president from 1989 to 1999 and had been board chairman since 1999.

His resignation is effective immediately, said Mr. Miller, who will assume Mr. Bergsmark's duties and remain board president.



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