Napoleon attorney George C. Rogers listed personal property on a federal bankruptcy form as clothing, a ring and bracelet, books, a 44-Magnum, household furnishings, and office equipment.
Not listed was the 5,545-square-foot Henry County home on the Maumee River that is on the market with an asking price of $795,000.
One of the lawyers who failed in a 1990 attempt to sue The Blade with allegations of libel and invasion of privacy, Mr. Rogers filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo earlier this month. The filing was made at the same time The Blade was pressing forward in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the reimbursement of attorney fees.
Mr. Rogers listed assets totaling $5,300 on the bankruptcy form. His liabilities were listed at $324,995.41, including an estimated $200,000 owed to The Blade.
A search of records in Henry County showed that in 2000 Mr. Rogers purchased 3.102 acres on State Rt. 110 for about $85,000. A year later, on April 17, 2001, he deeded the land to his wife, Elizabeth.
In 2002, the couple completed building a house on the lot.
Since then, several mortgages have been taken out, the most recent in 2006, in both the Rogers' names, according to records in the Henry County Recorder's Office. And in 2008, the lot was split.
Mrs. Rogers maintained ownership of the house and about two acres of land, records in the Henry County Auditor's office indicate.
The home is billed as a "secluded, waterfront, contemporary timberframe home." Mr. Rogers is listed as the owner and contact.
When reached by telephone, Mr. Rogers said he had no comment about why the home was not listed as an asset.
Toledo attorney Paul Bonfiglio, who represents The Blade in the motion for sanctions filed against Mr. Rogers, said that, as part of the process, creditors involved in a bankruptcy will do a check of available assets. "What we will do now is look to see what assets are claimed and what assets are not claimed that maybe should be," he said. "Any creditor listed will do the same."
Mr. Rogers and fellow attorney James Godbey filed a lawsuit against The Blade in the wake of an 8-day series run in 1990 detailing Toledo police misconduct. The lawsuit was dismissed in July, 1997.
Soon after, the newspaper filed a motion for attorney fees and sanctions. The motion was put on hold throughout the appellate process and in January, an order granting The Blade's request was granted.
In response to the order, The Blade's attorneys submitted statements totaling $163,301.
A decision on the total amount owed the newspaper still has not been determined.
Brian Hizer, who represents Mr. Rogers in the bankruptcy filing, could not be reached for comment.
Stephen Priestap, a Toledo bankruptcy attorney, said laws are put in place to ensure that those filing bankruptcy cannot sign over assets to keep them safe from creditors. However, if property was always listed in a spouse's name or was transferred at least four years prior to the filing, it would be difficult to prove the hiding of assets, he said.
"In Ohio, they can go back for up to four years [to look for] an inside transaction," Mr. Priestap said.
"If it's always been in his wife's name, then he wouldn't have to have disclosed it. If it was in his name, certainly in the past four years, it would have to be disclosed to bankruptcy court," he added, saying that any other instance of a home being deeded to a spouse "would be up to the bankruptcy trustee, who could either demand it put back in or file an adversarial action to get that done."
A meeting of those listed as creditors on Mr. Rogers' filing has been scheduled for Dec. 8.
Contact Erica Blake at: