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Date of Issue: April 16, 2008

Trustee pursues adversarial claims against Byrne

Failed Island real estate developer Richard Byrne may have moved to Chicago and allowed his company, GSR Development LLC, to disappear into the federal bankruptcy court system, but his creditors may yet have their day in court.

Byrne was forced into personal bankruptcy late last year by Island residents Kent Davis and Mel and Carole Yudofsky, all of whom had funds invested heavily with GSR. Luckily for them, Byrne had given a personal guarantee against their money. The guarantee meant their investments were not lumped with all the other unsecured creditors in the company bankruptcy filed by GSR in July 2006.

At the time Byrne gave those guarantees, he offered a personal net worth statement of $40 million.

Now, Davis and the Yudofskys, along with former Holmes Beach resident Pat Hart, are wondering where the $40 million went.

And they’re now receiving some help in finding Byrne’s money from federal bankruptcy court trustee Angela Welch Esposito and attorney Steve Berman, representing Esposito.

In March, Berman filed adversarial motions against 21 companies owned or controlled by either Byrne or his ex-wife Arlene.

Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May, who is overseeing both the GSR bankruptcy and Byrne’s personal bankruptcy, has not yet set a date to hear those motions.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office attended the initial hearing on the personal bankruptcy, but made no comment.

In the GSR bankruptcy, however, May has upheld several objections by GSR to unsecured claims, including one from Byrne and his ex-wife. Byrne had claimed that if GSR realized any money from the sale of its assets, he was entitled to about $4.5 million.

May also upheld objections to unsecured claims from the Yudofskys, Christian Huth, Chief Management Inc. and Bon Eau Enterprises LLC, among other local companies and individuals.

At the time it entered bankruptcy in July 2006, GSR owned more than 20 properties on Anna Maria Island, most of which were heavily mortgaged because of high-value appraisals that allowed the company to refinance those purchases and cash out the difference.