Bruce Rauner is not on trial in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa, Florida, before Judge Michael G. Williamson. Judging by the barrage of questions from Chicago’s savvy political reporters yesterday, one would believe that Rauner is indeed on trial. Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax reported “reporters aggressively attempted to get answers out of Bruce Rauner today on the nursing home scandal. They didn’t have much luck…” The basis of the lawsuit by plaintiffs that won more than $1 billion in judgments is that Rauner’s associates created a shell corporation to avoid paying the hefty judgments which were awarded because Rauner’s firm was found liable in nursing home abuse, neglect and death.
There is a trial going on in Judge Williamson’s courtroom that began Monday morning. Judge Williamson previously described as having “all the makings of a legal thriller.” While Bruce Rauner is not personally on trial in this Florida courtroom, his fingerprints and footprints are all over this case.
Smelling blood in the water concerning the bankruptcy trial in Florida, Chicago-based political reporters poked away at Rauner and visibly shook him up. Rauner believed the bankruptcy courts “will find there was no wrongdoing by anyone and these are, these are a distraction. That’s what I believe will be found.”
“I believe that the courts will sort it out and I believe anyone who made an inappropriate decision or failed should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Rauner said. Asked if that included him in that assessment, Rauner went silent. The essential political question in the case is if Rauner “bore any responsibility for GTCR’s decision to shed the nursing home firm amid neglect and wrongful death lawsuits.”
“I believe are false,” in response to his own liability in the case. Rauner then lashed out and tried to tie his own problems to Governor Pat Quinn, his opponent. “This is a destruction, a distraction from a failed governor who is creating a diversion away from his failure inside his administration. Pat Quinn is under federal criminal investigation himself, and his office,” Rauner said.
The story of Bruce Rauner, GTCR, the nursing home abuse and deaths, the $1 billion dollar judgment and the passing off of an entire business to a man named Barry Saacks is so compelling and newsworthy, the Chicago Tribune sent a reporter to Florida, reported Rich Miller of Capitol Fax.
Barry Saacks is an elderly graphic artist with no nursing home experience who expressed bewilderment over how he came to be listed as the sole shareholder of a company that bought nursing home chain Trans Healthcare Inc. as it was in financial free-fall in 2006.
“I don’t know that company,” Barry Saacks testified what he remembered signing papers to buy Trans Healthcare from GTCR. “Somebody must believe me.” Saacks pleaded in court, according to David Heinzmann of the Chicago Tribune.
Saacks thought he was buying “computer equipment, which he intended to lease to Fundamental Administrative Services (a newly created entity that provided administrative services to the nursing homes acquired by FLTCH),” Williamson wrote.
Judge Williamson also questioned the fact that if Saacks were buying the computer equipment, “Why would Saacks — an elderly graphic designer — acquire the stock in a company that was subject to millions of dollars in liability simply to obtain computer equipment?” Williamson said. “Why not simply enter into an asset purchase agreement? And how is it, assuming the allegations of the plaintiffs’ complaint are true, that Saacks never paid the $100,000 purchase price, never received the computer equipment, and apparently has never received any lease payments from FAS?”
That ultimately could be the problem for GTCR and the other defendants. Where was the $100,000 fee for the computer equipment and what happened to the computer equipment that Saacks never received?
These questions, “other than the one about why Saacks would enter into a stock sale agreement rather than an asset sale agreement — are based on mere allegations at this point,” Williamson added.
The defendants in the case contend that GTCR and its associates, deliberately created a shell company that shielded the firm from lawful judgments topping $1 billion. Bloomberg reports, “One of the plaintiffs Juanita Jackson died in July 2003, five weeks after she was removed from a Florida nursing home where her family said continual neglect led to multiple bedsores, malnutrition and a fall that injured her head. Trying to collect a $110 million verdict against two nursing home companies has led her family on a four-year odyssey through a maze of private-equity firms and shell companies to a bankruptcy court trial that began.”
Doug Ibendahl of RepublicanNewWatch.com provided the following background on the defendants in the trial. GTCR entities are named defendants in the case: GTCR Golder Rauner, LLC; GTCR Fund VI, LP; GTCR Partners VI, LP; GTCR VI Executive Fund, LP; GTCR Associates, VI; and THI Holdings, LLC. Bruce Rauner was the chairman of the Chicago-based GTCR when the alleged wrongdoing took place.
The various defendants in the case already have judgments against them in the astounding amount of over $1 billion dollars. The defendants are claiming they don’t owe any of the defendants the money
Doug Ibendahl of RepublicanNewWatch.com reported:
The plaintiffs allege there was a deliberate scheme to hide assets from the victims, which involved massive fraud and an unlawful abuse of the bankruptcy laws. The plaintiffs essentially allege GTCR’s owners (including Rauner) plundered what they could while driving the nursing home business into bankruptcy, and then simply walked away from the elderly victims in the wake of massive court judgments.
But Rauner would prefer to talk about Governor Quinn when confronted with these details.
Rauner has refused to discuss this lawsuit in detail since last Jan. 22, Chicago attorney Doug Ibendahl broke the story wide open, with a hat tip from Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax. Miller gave a heads up to its readers with the cryptic posting statement that didn’t give a clue to its contents:
“Go read this. All of it. As soon as you possibly can.”
What followed was a stunning repudiation of Bruce Rauner and his GTCR private equity firm, as a former general counsel of the Illinois Republican Party posted an article titled “Rauner’s GTCR linked to nursing home deaths and abuse.”
The author of the piece, Chicago attorney Doug Ibendahl, opened with, “Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner pledges to run Illinois government ‘like a business.’ In light of some disturbing facts which have come to light through multiple lawsuits involving Rauner’s former private equity firm, voters had better do their homework into what exactly the catchphrase ‘like a business’ means to Mr. Rauner.