The 50 felony charges filed against C. Dean Larsen last week may not pose as serious a problem as recent allegations that he violated U.S. bankruptcy laws.
Larsen could go to prison for several years if convicted of criminal charges that he improperly handled funds in three of 100 limited partnerships under the general partnership of Granada Inc. But allegations that Larsen violated bankruptcy law mean he could also spend the rest of his life paying millions of dollars owed to creditors.When Larsen transferred the title of his house to his wife shortly before declaring bankruptcy, transferred nearly $200,000 of investors' money to himself and invested the proceeds from the sale of his BMW and Mercedes instead of paying off creditors, he may have violated bankruptcy law.
Creditors are angered by those and scores of other transactions they say Larsen made that could constitute "fraud, larceny, embezzlement and willful and malicious injury," complaints say. Creditors cite several other possible violations of the law.
While creditors have filed suits against Larsen, the court-appointed trustee for Larsen's estate, Mary Ellen Sloan, filed a suit recently against The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for $34,665.80 in donations Larsen made to the LDS Church in the two years prior to his bankruptcy. Sloan wants the money back.
Her case is scheduled for trial Feb. 14.
The creditors' suits are based on bankruptcy law which says that when most people file for bankruptcy, their assets are divided up among their creditors. The remainder of the debts are discharged, meaning the individuals do not have to pay the creditors. They start their financial lives afresh.
However, when creditors can prove that an individual defrauded them or the court by any one of several means, the court can refuse to discharge any or all ofthe person's debts, and he will still owe those debts even though he has taken out bankruptcy.
Creditors have filed 11 complaints in U.S. Bankruptcy Court asking the court not to discharge one or all of Larsen's debts.
If the court rules in favor of the creditors, creditors can pursue Larsen through civil suit for the money owed them.
If a creditor successfully sues Larsen and gets a judgment against him, that judgment is effective for eight years. However, creditors can renew that judgment every eight years.
"If the creditor is diligent and takes timely action, that creditor could chase Larsen for the rest of Larsen's life," said one of the bankruptcy attorneys involved in the case.
The claims made by the creditors are as harsh as the 50 felony charges Larsen faces in 3rd Circuit Court.
Larsen is the former president of Granada Inc., a bankrupt real estate development company in which Utahns invested $94 million over its 16-year life. Nearly $48 million in claims have been filed against the company by investors and creditors since it declared bankruptcy in February 1987.
Larsen, himself, filed for bankruptcy in June 1987.
Creditors have filed more than $18 million in claims against Larsen personally. They are now urging the court not to discharge those debts.
Zions First National Bank makes some of the strongest accusations against Larsen. The bank is asking the court to make Larsen pay the bank $2,131,169.43 no matter how long it takes or how poor Larsen is.
The bank holds claim for several beneficiary plans that invested in Granada. The bank accused Larsen of transferring over $2 million in assets belonging to the plans to several projects in which he had a personal interest.
The bank's complaint focuses repeatedly on several personal transactions: on June 6, 1986, Larsen transferred $20,000 from Fox River, a general partnership, to the C. Dean Larsen trust fund, the complaint said. On Sept 16, 1986, he transferred $120,000 to himself and the following day, he transferred another $40,075.41 to himself, the complaint said.
Larsen made the latter two transfers by writing out two checks, one for $120,000 and the other for $40,075.41, to the order of "Cash" and signing them with his name, the complaint said.
Larsen also transferred $7,500 from the White River partnerships to the C. Dean Larsen trust, the complaint said.
The bank maintains those funds belonged to the beneficiary plans.
The bank also contends that Wayne Jensen, an officer in Granada, wrote a check for $35,000 to himself and signed the check. Those funds, too, came from fundsowed to the beneficiary plans, the bank said.
Those acts constitute larceny, embezzlement and willful and malicious injury by Larsen, the complaint said.
Several investors have filed complaints with the court urging it not to discharge Larsen's debts because they said Larsen defrauded them when he persuaded them to invest. They want the court to order Larsen to pay them various amounts ranging from $13,000 to $717,778.05.
The phrase "false and fraudulent representation" shows up repeatedly in several of the suits. A suit filed by several investors _ identified as "Carlos Flamand, et al." _ accuses Larsen of "looting" some partnerships, using the proceeds to satisfy his own obligations.
Several of the complaints noted that Larsen acted as personal attorney and corporate attorney for several of the medical corporations that invested in Granada. The complaints accuse Larsen of violating his fiduciary responsibilities as a lawyer, securities broker and business promoter.
Zions also cites 20 property transfers that Larsen made before filing for bankruptcy that the bank claims were made to "hinder, delay or defraud his creditors." For example, in September 1986, he transferred his house, 186 Dorchester, to his wife, Mary Jo, thereby insuring that the court-appointed trustee couldn't sell the house to pay creditors.
Larsen also donated property to the LDS Church. Between May 1985 and May 1986, Larsen made cash donations totaling $25,965.80 to the LDS Church, Sloan said in her suit. In December 1985, he also transferred 11.11 percent interest in a building lot valued at $5,000. The following December, he transferred 11 percent interest in two building lots at Eastwood Estates valued at $3,700.
These donations prompted the suit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are not part of the transactions deemed fraudulent by creditors.
Sloan said the payments and land were not given to pay off a debt, but rather, as voluntary donations. Therefore, the LDS Church should return the money so it can be divided up among Larsen's creditors, she said in her suit.
"The matter is under review by the church legal department, which will recommend to church officials an appropriate response to this litigation," said Richard P. Lindsay, director of public communication and special affairs for the church.
The church has been sued in the past to reclaim donations made by people who later declared bankruptcy, Lindsay said. "It has been done before."
Three months before filing bankruptcy, Larsen also sold his BMW to his brother, Gary, for $19,000 and then invested $14,000 of it in his company instead of paying off creditors, the complaint said.
When he sold his Mercedes, he invested $3,500 of the proceeds into his wife's company, Sweet Bouquet, the complaint says.
The unsecured creditors' committee, a committee acting on behalf of Larsen's scores of unsecured creditors, is also asking the court not to discharge any of Larsen's debt.