Sue Anne Dolin is having problems paying back the millions of dollars her dead husband scammed out of two Ohio banks.
After skipping town, Ms. Dolin told her lawyer she sent money to Costa Rica to a man who later committed suicide and now she cannot possibly get the money back or return to Toledo to talk about it in court.
An attorney representing Cleveland-based KeyBank is skeptical.
"No one has told us who this guy is, how the money went there, where she is for certain, how the suicide is related to the money, nothing," said Reginald Jackson, Jr.
The case arose after Ms. Dolin's husband, Shale Dolin - who owned two Shale's pharmacy outlets in Toledo and one in Perrysburg - kited $2 million between KeyBank and Mid Am Bank, now known as Bowling Green-based Sky Bank, taking advantage of the "float" time required to clear the checks, even though there were no funds to back them up.
But Mr. Dolin did not pay up: He committed suicide in 2000 by gassing himself on tailpipe fumes in his Sylvania Township condominium's garage.
The two banks sued Ms. Dolin in Lucas County Common Pleas Court as the inheritor of his estate, based on personal guaranties she signed with each bank.
A lawsuit settlement between the two banks has since placed all debt responsibility on KeyBank's shoulders.
Ms. Dolin's attorney, Thomas Heintschel, said Ms. Dolin was unaware of her husband's activities, and that the guaranties in question only amounted to loans worth $235,000.
"I think she deserves sympathy rather than criticism. At a minimum, it's unjust if not bizarre that she could be held liable for $2.5 million after signing for just a tenth of that," he said.
But Mr. Jackson said regardless of whether Ms. Dolin knew about the kite scheme, she certainly benefited from it.
"There were assets that were purchased and she was the recipient of those assets," he said. "We traced the proceeds of the kite scheme to her hands."
Ms. Dolin, whose current whereabouts are unknown, did not return calls via her attorney for comment.
At the start of the trial, Mid Am Bank attempted to freeze $927,000 in cash and securities owned by Ms. Dolin. The funds were later released by a court motion in December, 2000, allowing Ms. Dolin the right to use the money for personal needs and debts. But in May, 2002, court injunction was imposed after the banks claimed about $300,000 was missing.
Mr. Heintschel said the money was spent legitimately on living expenses, legal fees, and debts.
In September of last year, visiting Judge Stephen Yarbrough ruled that Ms. Dolin was responsible for the bad checks written by her husband - to the tune of $2,057,097, plus three years of interest.
Ms. Dolin appealed, and the appeal is pending in the 6th District State Court of Appeals in Toledo.
In the meantime, Mr. Jackson asked Ms. Dolin to show him the money - or at least tell him where it was. Ms. Dolin supplied documents that were, Mr. Jackson said, "very vague, and about $300,000 shy."
A deposition was later scheduled with the court for Dec. 13, in which Ms. Dolin was told to bring all her financial information. But by then it had been weeks before anyone involved in the case had seen Ms. Dolin - including her attorney.
Days before the meeting, Mr. Heintschel called Mr. Jackson and told him that Ms. Dolin - fearful that the bank would take all her money - had left the state and sent an unspecified amount of money to Costa Rica to a man who misappropriated it and then committed suicide.
Mr. Jackson said he reacted to the call with "disbelief." Mr. Heintschel's statement was put on the record before the court.
"I don't know exactly where she is," Mr. Heintschel said in a telephone interview. "It's my understanding she has some physical ailments, and lacks the funds to come back to Ohio." He declined to say how he remains in contact with Ms. Dolin.
"We have indication that she's relocated to Florida," Mr. Jackson said, declining to say how he came by such information.
As for the $2 million - including the $927,000 once garnished by Mid Am Bank - it has disappeared, according to a sworn statement by Richard B. Johnson, the bank's forensic accountant. Much had been moved to a bank account in Arizona, which was later closed.
"It's my understanding that she can't get the money back, though [the money that was garnished] is still here. It wasn't sent," Mr. Heintschel said.
He wasn't certain why Ms. Dolin would not be able to return to Toledo because of financial reasons if the once-garnished money was still in the country.
Asked who the Costa Rican man was, Mr. Heintschel said he "found his name on the Internet or something. He misappropriated other peoples' money too. I didn't keep the guy's name, because it has nothing to do with the case I'm appealing."
But Mr. Jackson said knowing the man's identity would be helpful. "It would be great to know this guy's name so we could verify it," he said.
Mr. Heintschel said the bank should be more sympathetic. "Ms. Dolin has had a very rough time - can you imagine going through what she went through with her husband, the suicide, and now the banks suing her for 10 times what she signed for?"
A new motion has been filed to order Ms. Dolin to appear in court and show why she should not be held in contempt of court. Mr. Jackson said he expects a hearing date to be set shortly after the new year.
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