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Date of Issue: December 20, 2007

Attorney asks GSR judge to cancel trial

Islanders and mainlanders who have lost money investing in the failed GSR Development LLC were hoping for their day in federal bankruptcy court Jan. 10. That’s the day that adversarial proceedings against GSR principals Robert Byrne and Steve Noriega and others involved in the failed company were slated to start.

But that day in court now appears in jeopardy.

The attorney for the unsecured creditors committee and the plaintiff in the proceedings has told Judge K. Rodney May that an agreement has been reached with the “adversaries” and the trial scheduled for Jan. 10 may be canceled.

Cheryl Thompson of the Tampa law firm of Gray Robinson P.A. filed her notice with the court Dec. 12, noting that her client and "all remaining defendants in this adversary proceeding" have "reached a settlement of all of the claims at issue."

As a result, Thompson told May, the January trial "may be canceled." Thompson also said that she would file a motion with the court for "authority to compromise controversy" in the near future.

If May agrees, it means the scheduled trial of the men who ran GSR and allegedly took Island and area investors for nearly $6 million in unsecured claims will not take place. Byrne and Noriega will probably face no other claims or proceedings in federal bankruptcy court.

Investors in the failed company were puzzled by the announcement that an agreement had been reached.

Unsecured creditor Paul Galizzi, who is also the contractor who built GSR’s still-vacant $2.5 million model home just off South Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria, said it appears that attorneys involved just filed the adversarial action to make more money. Attorneys for the plaintiff had asked for a settlement of $3.3 million, of which a large portion would likely go to pay the vast array of attorneys and accountants who have become involved in disposing of any GSR assets since the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2006.

“I still haven’t gotten a dime of what I’m owed,” Galizzi said, “I would really like to see that agreement.”

Likewise for unsecured creditor Kent Davis, who has managed to get back a significant portion of the original $600,000 he was owed by Byrne and GSR not through the committee but on his own endeavors.

The agreement was a surprise to Davis, who said he would need to talk to his attorney before commenting.

Davis, along with Islanders and GSR investors Mel and Carol Yudofsky, retained their own attorney two months ago to represent them in the adversarial proceedings.

Davis has previously indicated, however, that while he has no great hope of ever getting all his money back from Byrne and Noriega, he would like to know where all GSR’s money went, particularly as the company went bankrupt during a period of unprecedented growth in Island real estate values.

Thompson did not respond to e-mails asking her for an explanation of the settlement.