Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judge Throws Book at Partner in Defunct Law Firm

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judge Throws Book at Partner in Defunct Law Firm

Article excerpt

Citing "a pattern of concealment, transfers, and fraudulent behavior," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Karen M. See has thrown the book at Ronald U. Lurie and his wife, Nancy.

Lurie, who was managing partner of the defunct Popkin & Stern law firm, was ordered Thursday to submit every other week, under oath, statements of personal income and expenses. See froze the assets of Lurie and his wife, allowing no more than $1,500 a month for living expenses.

If the couple wants to avoid these restrictions, See will accept a $1 million bond.

The Luries may be liable for more than $1 million in claims against Popkin & Stern. That will be determined at a trial in September.

The law firm collapsed in disarray in September 1991. A messy bankruptcy case was settled last August, when the former Popkin & Stern partners agreed to contribute to a fund that will partially cover the claims of the firm's creditors.

In return, the partners are protected from individual suits by the creditors. Because the law firm was a partnership and not a corporation, each partner could have been sued personally for all the firm's debts.

But Lurie may have lost protection from such suits. See ruled that he defaulted on the August 1993 settlement by selling his house on Dec. 1 without notifying the Popkin & Stern trustee. A mortgage on the house had been used to secure Lurie's obligation to the settlement fund.

Lurie didn't tell the buyers of his house, or the title company where the deal closed, about the mortgage. Instead, in See's words, he tried to "extort" the buyers and the title company.

Lurie later paid $301,000 to the fund, but stopped payment on the check. On March 7, following an order from See, Lurie paid off his obligation to the fund.

But he still defaulted, See ruled, and thus violated the August agreement. The trustee, Robert Blackwell, is suing Lurie for the difference between the total claims against Popkin & Stern and the amount raised through the settlement fund.

The law firm's former landlord, a partnership controlled by Apex Oil Co. executives Samuel R. Goldstein and Paul A. "Tony" Novelly, also is pursuing Lurie in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

The Luries now live in Bozeman, Mont. They were not present in See's court last week. Their lawyer, Dennis Dobbels of Kansas City, argued unsuccessfully that no default had occurred.

CHAIN CHINESE: General Mills Inc., which makes millions on its Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains, is bringing its newest concept to metro St. Louis. It's called China Coast, and the first one here will open in November in Fairview Heights.

China Coast has a large menu featuring various regional specialties of China, and a buffet at lunch. The restaurants are large - more than 9,000 square feet at Fairview Heights - with open kitchens and full bars. …

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