Peel's wife fighting bankruptcy suit

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 23, 2007, 5:32am

Jurors in attorney Gary Peel's criminal trial had yet to reach a verdict by 10:30 a.m. Friday.

But in the meantime, the Record learned that Peel's wife, Deborah Pontious-Peel, was scheduled to be on trial in the same courthouse at the same time as her husband.

Pontious-Peel's trial in a bankruptcy court action claiming that her husband fraudulently transferred more than $120,000 in property to her, however, has been postponed until July 20.

She was sued on June 13, 2006, by Carla Randolph, the court-appointed trustee in Gary Peel's bankruptcy case. Randolph is challenging various transfers or sales of property that Peel purported to make to his wife within a 16-month period before he filed for bankruptcy.

Pontious-Peel's trial had been set to begin on March 16, which would have overlapped with her husband's criminal trial on charges of possession of child pornography, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice.

According to Count I of the complaint filed by Randolph in the U.S. bankruptcy court in East St. Louis, Gary Peel executed a "Bill of Sale of Furniture" on March 23, 2004, purporting to transfer his interest in various personal property worth more than $80,000 to his wife for $1.

The complaint alleges the transferred items included mermaid statues, household furniture and power tools.

Randolph claims the transfer was made when Peel was insolvent and/or with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud Peel's creditors.

"The transfer was made without consideration and without receiving a reasonably equivalent value in exchange for said transfer," the complaint states.

Count II of the complaint is based on the allegation that Peel conveyed a one-half interest in his 2002 Jeep Ltd., to Pontious-Peel for $1.

In Count III, Randolph claims that on July 6, 2004, again for a payment by his wife of $1, Peel executed a warranty deed transferring the interest that he owns in certain real estate to himself and his wife as tenants by the entirety.

Count IV alleges that within one year prior to filing bankruptcy, Peel "transferred" to his wife a ring having an original purchase price of approximately $40,000. The complaint alleges Pontious-Peel paid nothing in exchange for the ring.

Randolph seeks to set aside the transfers to Pontious-Peel and obtain an order requiring her to either return the items to the bankruptcy estate or pay the estate the value of those items.

In her July 11, 2006, answer, Pontious-Peel, who is representing herself in the case, denies that she only paid $1 for the items described in Counts I-III of the complaint.

She said she paid Peel additional financial and non-financial consideration. She noted that the "Bill of Sale of Furniture" mentioned in Count I described that non-financial consideration as "love and affection."

Pontious-Peel admitted that she did not pay her husband anything in exchange for the ring that was the subject of Count IV. She denied, as she did in her answer to the other Counts, that her husband was insolvent at the time of the transfer or that the transfer was made to hinder, delay or defraud her husband's creditors.

In subsequent court proceedings, Pontious-Peel filed a request asking Randolph to admit, among other things, that the trustee failed to file any complaint against Peel's former wife, Deborah J. Peel, based on the alleged claims against her for misappropriation of assets that were listed by Gary Peel in the schedules he filed in his bankruptcy case.

Randolph objected to Pontious-Peel's request on the ground that the requests to admit facts pertaining to the trustee's actions regarding Deborah J. Peel, a non-party to the case against Pontious-Peel, "have no bearing on the Plaintiff's action against the Defendant for recovery of fraudulent transfers."

That and other alleged failures by the trustee to comply with Pontious-Peel's discovery requests led her to file a motion for an order compelling Randolph to fully comply with discovery requests or, in the alternative, dismissing the case.

On Nov. 13, 2006, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gerald D. Fines denied Pontious-Peel's motion and set the case for trial on March 16, 2007. That date turned out to be three days after the beginning of Gary Peel's criminal trial.

When Pontious-Peel appeared in bankruptcy court on March 16, Judge Fines continued the trial until July 20, 2007.

More News