Those of us who have been in Colorado quite a while can remember the heyday of Tom Martino’s Troubleshooter career. He appeared regularly on local TV, protecting innocent consumers from unscrupulous businesses and corporate bullying.
But now Martino has his hands full with his own troubles. A federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday ordered the auction of an airplane hangar belonging to Troubleshooter Tom Martino over the radio host’s objections . The hangar is held by Colorado Airplane Hanger Co., which Martino owns.
Judge Michael Romero said Martino should have filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code if he wanted to control how his assets were dispersed. Instead, Martino filed for Chapter 7 protection on Sept. 2, which leaves to a court-appointed trustee how to liquidate his assets.
Trustee Simon Rodriguez asked the court’s permission to sell the hangar in Watkins, which Martino has fought to keep. The hangar, which Martino’s lawyer says is worth about $180,000, is scheduled to be sold publicly on Jan. 18. Martino’s lawyer told the court that Martino is settling many of his debts, deals that should free him from much of the $70 million he said he owes and remove any need to sell the hangar. Most of the debts were the result of real estate deals that tanked with the economy.
The bankruptcy trustee says the consumer advocate who has made a fortune from “shining a bright light” on bad players isn’t at all happy with having it shone back on him. As a result, a new filing by the trustee accuses Martino of deliberately turning normally sedate bankruptcy proceedings into a tussle over control of the radio personality’s affairs. Martino said the trustee and his attorneys are “milking the case,” dragging their feet to run up their legal fees. Martino said he has cooperated at every turn.
The motion also seeks sanctions against Martino for filing the lawsuit that claims the trustee is meandering by investigating claims Martino said are false.
Martino, 58, blames his woes on the economic collapse that sent real estate values plummeting. Martino owed more than $40 million on several development deals in which he was the primary partner or signatory. Several of those deals have since gone into foreclosure.
Martino has denied any wrongdoing and frequently has taken issue with Rodriguez over questions Martino said were off-base, mostly because they delved into his personal and business deals outside the bankruptcy. Most personal bankruptcies are quick affairs, discharging a debtor within a few months, but Martino’s case already has hearings scheduled for late spring.
In addition to the suit against Rodriguez, Martino has filed four lawsuits within the bankruptcy, known as adversary cases, each taking issue with a creditor’s claim or effort to collect.
But Martino has also been sued, by a one-time friend for alleged “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Martino was served Wednesday with the lawsuit filed by Sheldon Chrysler.
In the lawsuit, Chrysler accuses Martino of a “pattern of extreme and outrageous conduct” that he claims was a deliberate effort to cause him long-term emotional problems.
Martino says the allegations are not true and that as a public person he is “powerless” to stop lawsuits against him.