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Date of Issue: January 03, 2008

Court places Byrne into involuntary bankruptcy

Just a few years ago, Robert Byrne was one of the leading real estate developers on Anna Maria Island. He and business partner Steve Noriega lived a “jet-set” lifestyle consistent with the booming Island real estate market of the early 2000s.

By their own assessment, they were going to change the face of Island real estate, and in a strange twist of irony, they apparently accomplished their plan.

But the mighty have taken a tumble of late.

In July 2006, Byrne and Noriega placed their company, GSR Development LLC, into bankruptcy (see separate story) and eventually gave up all claims to its alleged $30 million in assets. The bankruptcy left about $6 million in unsecured claims from investors who backed Byrne and Noriega on nothing but their promises.

Two week ago, Byrnes’ financial difficulties got a bit worse.

Federal Judge K. Rodney May placed Byrne into Chapter 7 personal involuntary bankruptcy Dec. 14 following a motion by attorney Steve Berman, representing Islanders and unsecured GSR creditors Kent Davis, Mel and Carol Yudofsky and Patricia Hart. Collectively, the three parties have claims totaling about $1 million, all of which are reportedly backed by the personal guarantee of Byrne.

According to federal court records available on-line, Byrne has apparently agreed not to contest the motion for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Byrne is represented by attorney Richard Lee in the involuntary petition.

May said he would appoint a trustee in the case at a later date, and set the commencement hearing for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 1, at the Timberlake Annex of the federal court at 501 E. Polk St. in Tampa. That hearing will include a meeting of the creditors and May will fix the various deadlines in the case.

Byrne at one time displayed a financial statement claiming he had a net worth of $42 million.