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Published: Saturday, 1/16/2010

Suit accuses developer of deposits into college fund


BOWLING GREEN - A principal investor in several failed Timberstone Group Inc. partnerships is being sued by Fifth Third Bank for $75,000 allegedly deposited into the college savings accounts of his children before his business collapsed.

Jerry Batt of Bowling Green is a defendant in the suit, along with the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, which administers the state's 529 college savings plans. The suit was filed this week in Wood County Common Pleas Court and assigned to Judge Robert Pollex.

Mr. Batt is the former president of Huntington Insurance, originally Sky Insurance. Huntington has filed suits seeking $17 million from Mr. Batt in connection with guarantees he made to cover loans for partnerships owning retail and office properties in the area around Westfield Franklin Park, a parking lot for tractor-trailers in Lake Township, DeVeaux Village in Toledo, Chesterfield Plaza in Maumee, and a fitness club being developed at DeVeaux Village.

The suits do not allege Mr. Batt used undue influence to obtain the loans or that he received preferential treatment.

In addition, Fifth Third was granted judgments in February, 2009, for more than $5 million against Mr. Batt in connection with two other failed Timberstone developments.

The new suit contends that on Aug. 11, 2008, Mr. Batt allegedly deposited $75,000 into his sons' college savings accounts "at a time when the Huntington Bank, Fifth Third, and other judgments were impending and at a time when [Mr. ] Batt knew or had reason to know of his pending insolvency."

In addition to restoration of the funds for other creditors, Fifth Third is seeking punitive damages because of Mr. "Batt's egregious conduct in reckless disregard for Fifth Third's rights as a creditor."

Mr. Batt could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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