Buske wants judge to steer S.C. Johnson away from property

Amelia Flood Sep. 3, 2009, 8:36am

Attorneys for Thomas Buske are asking Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman to declare that a $203.8 million Wisconsin judgment against him doesn't apply to property sought by his wife and children.

Buske's attorneys are also asking Chapman to order the company seeking the enforcement of the judgment, S.C. Johnson, to pay his legal fees and those of his family.

S.C. Johnson has been attempting to intervene in Thomas Buske's divorce from his wife of over a decade, Sara Buske, claiming that it is an attempt to hide monies owed to the company.

A hearing on the division of property is set for Oct. 5. The motion for declaratory judgment was filed Sept. 2. A hearing on motions in the Buske divorce was set for Aug. 21, but was postponed due to attorney scheduling conflicts.

Attorneys for Sara Buske and S.C. Johnson have yet to file a response.

Thomas Buske is facing multiple counts of fraud in a Wisconsin federal court. He has pled not guilty to allegedly defrauding S.C. Johnson of millions using inflated invoices from his trucking businesses.

S.C. Johnson won the $203.8 million judgment in a Wisconsin state court last year. Sara Buske filed for divorce eight days after the judgment was entered.

According to the declaratory judgment motion filed by Thomas Buske's attorney Vicki Cochran, S.C. Johnson contends it is entitled to all of the couple's property as the Wisconsin judgment is a martial debt.

In her motion, Cochran asks the court to declare that:

  • The claims for support filed on behalf of Thomas and Sara Buske's children and Thomas Buske's child from a previous marriage supercede S.C. Johnson's claims;

  • TSara Buske did not take part in the alleged scheme to defraud S.C. Johnson;

  • Sara Buske did not knowingly accept cash or valuables derived from the alleged scheme;

  • Sara Buske did not bribe or facilitate gifts or trips or other incentives for S.C. Johnson employees;

  • Property allotted to Sara Buske and the children was not derived from the alleged scheme and that S.C. Johnson has no legal claim to it;

  • The martial home was not fraudulently transferred between Thomas and Sara Buske;

  • Sara Buske has no legal responsibility to pay the $203.8 million judgment and that is not a marital debt;

  • Sara Buske's claim to the martial property supercedes S.C. Johnson's and she is not indebted to the company; and

  • S.C. Johnson as the intervenor should pay Thomas Buske's attorneys' fees for the argument of the motion and preparation for the argument, should pay Sara Buske's attorneys' fees and pay the fees of the attorney who represents the two children of Sara and Thomas Buske as well as those attorneys fees for Thomas Buske's child from a previous marriage.

    No order for dissolution has been entered yet in the divorce.

    S.C. Johnson has a suit pending in the Illinois Southern District Federal Court against both Buskes.

    The Aug. 21 hearing has yet to be rescheduled. It was to take up motions for educational trusts for Thomas and Sara Buske's two children and a motion by S.C. Johnson to completely vacate a December 2008 order signed by then presiding judge Duane Bailey enjoining the company from collecting on the Wisconsin judgment.

    Thomas Buske's daughter from a previous marriage has an action pending in Montgomery County that seeks support for her college expenses.

    Sara Buske is represented by Howard Feldman.

    S.C. Johnson is represented by Andrew Velloff and Thomas Keefe Jr.

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