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Date of Issue: March 29, 2007

Conspiracy claims against GSR 'targets'

Since GSR Development LLC first filed for bankruptcy in July 2006, the web of its real estate and financial transactions has become tangled and confusing, to say the least.

The company now faces a $46 million bankruptcy that has involved a number of Island and Manatee County residents and businesses.

The latest chapter in the on-going GSR saga comes from the unsecured creditors committee of GSR.

Fresh with a decision by federal bankruptcy court Judge K. Rodney May that allows the committee to pursue some claims against GSR's Villa Rosa project in Anna Maria, the committee submitted its own motion recently claiming a "conspiracy" exists among the "targets" of GSR.

Specifically, the committee named GSR principals Robert Byrne and Steve Noriega as "targets," along with Randall Bono of Bon Eau Enterprises in Sarasota, Thomas Coelho and Derek Filcoff.

In its motion to the court, the committee alleged that the "Villa Rosa claims include claims of conspiracy to commit criminal usury" against all the "targets," for their "respective and collective roles in a criminally usurious pre-petition lending relationship" in which GSR was the borrower and Bon Eau the lender in a transaction involving GSR's Villa Rosa development in Anna Maria.

Exactly who owns Villa Rosa, how much was paid and whether the $6.5 million that Bon Eau reportedly gave GSR in 2005 is legal or not are all issues the court has yet to resolve.

The committee said Bono and his counsel "steadfastly deny that Bono is a loan shark, and deny that Bono mastermined an oppressive lending relationships against the debtor with the help of Filcoff and the other targets."

In the meantime, however, Filcoff has sent a "settlement check" of $25,117 to GSR's counsel.

Committee attorney John Anthony said that, while the committee "appreciates the reasonable efforts of Filcoff to make amends for his role in the improper conduct" against GSR by the targets, the settlement check should be rejected based upon a number of legal points.

He also called Filcoff's $25,000 settlement a "paltry sum" in light of the nearly $6 million in unsecured claims against GSR. And that amount doesn't include claims by Robert Byrnes that he's owed nearly $5 million as an unsecured creditor of his own company.

Anthony also noted that since October 2006, GSR has declined to accept any of its claims, "opting instead to perpetuate settlement discussions," which are running up administrative costs that are paid out of GSR's rapidly dwindling estate - at the expense of the unsecured creditors.

Anthony asked the court to grant the committee's motion to reject Filcoff's settlement check.