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Date of Issue: May 21, 2008

Byrne drops millions to $500

Just a few short years ago, flamboyant Island real estate developer Robert Byrne of GSR Development LLC displayed a $40 million financial statement to his potential investors.

But GSR failed and Byrne has apparently fallen on hard times. Gone are the late model Mercedes cars, the private airplane and the expensive jewelry he flaunted.

Just last month, Byrne noted on documents submitted for his personal bankruptcy case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa that he had only $500.

 Along with an apparent loss of assets, Byrne is also facing 22 adversarial actions in the bankruptcy court.

In online court documents, Byrne claims to the court that he has assets of only $500 and is working as an “independent consultant” for a Chicago company, but has no income.

Prior to April 23, Byrne was facing 21 separate “adversarial proceedings” filed by court trustee Angela Welch Esposito and trustee attorney Steve Berman. An adversarial proceeding allows the court to recover “property and money” in a procedure that might otherwise be in a criminal court where property and money is not recoverable.

On April 23, however, Esposito filed yet another adversarial notice against Byrne and former GSR employee Kathy Rolfe for recovery of an unspecified amount of property and money.

That same day, Esposito filed legal action against Palm Beach businessman Joseph Faitel and Souder Enterprises Inc., alleged associates of Byrne in his business dealings on Florida’s east coast. Also named in the proceedings are Frank and Diane Souder.

Island businessman Kent Davis, who invested money in GSR and loaned Byrne money against a personal guarantee based upon his $40 million net worth, said he knew all three to be involved in Byrne’s real estate ventures in the Palm Beach area.

Byrne was forced into personal bankruptcy last year by Davis, along with creditors Mel and Carole Yudofsky and former Holmes Beach resident Pat Hart. Davis and the Yudofskys live in Holmes Beach.

Since then, Holmes Beach resident Merritt Fineout has joined the case as a creditor, along with Horizon Bank and Spectrum Management Inc., among others.

Spectrum is the company that built the GSR model home at the Villa Rosa subdivision in Anna Maria. The $2.5 million home is still vacant and needs an additional $800,000 worth of improvements before a certificate of occupancy can be issued, Paul Gallizzi of Spectrum has said previously.

At one time, the house was pre-sold to NBA player Theo Ratliff, who placed a $250,000 deposit on the then-unbuilt home. Ratliff lost his deposit, while Byrne and GSR partner Steve Noriega lost their company.

Although GSR is still in bankruptcy, efforts to sell any of its more than 20 properties on Anna Maria Island last year were unsuccessful and the company has been deemed essentially worthless by the court. Noriega and Byrne have both given up any interest in the company. Many of their “over assessed and over mortgaged” properties went into foreclosure, and some were subsequently sold by the mortgage holders, presumably at a loss, according to creditors.