SC Johnson attorney asks for funds owed under Buske settlement

Amelia Flood Jan. 25, 2010, 6:41am

An attorney for S.C. Johnson and Sons Inc. has asked the Madison County court to release funds the company says it is owed from the settlement of its claims in the divorce of an Edwardsville couple.

S.C. Johnson intervened in the divorce of Thomas and Sara Buske, claiming it was a sham designed to hide money that Thomas Buske owes the company under a civil judgment entered in Wisconsin. Thomas Buske currently faces federal charges for allegedly defrauding S.C. Johnson of millions using inflated invoices from his trucking concerns.

His wife, Sara Buske, filed for divorce eight days after the company obtained a $200 million judgment against her husband. The couple continued to live and vacation together until nearly a year after the June 2008 filing.

The company and the Buskes reached a settlement Dec. 1, 2009. The settlement agreement is not available in scanned court documents.

In the motion filed by S.C. Johnson attorney Andrew Velloff, the company claims that Thomas Buske has not paid $15,000 he owes the company as part of the settlement.

According Velloff's Jan. 21 motion, under the Dec. 1, 2009 settlement, Thomas Buske was to pay his estranged wife, Sara, $325,000 and $50,000 to her attorneys.

A trust account of $475,000 was established for his three children. Up to $25,000 is to be paid to the attorneys acting for the children.

The remainder of Buske's escrowed funds, less than $200,000, goes to S.C. Johnson.

Under the settlement, Thomas Buske also is required to pay the company $65,000 of his Illinois Department of Revenue refund checks in order to settle part of a $90,000 loan issued to him by his former company, Buske Lines, Inc.

Buske Lines was transferred to S.C. Johnson under the settlement agreement.

At the time of the settlement's Dec. 18 closing, Thomas Buske had only paid $50,000, the motion indicates.

"Counsel for SC Johnson has repeatedly requested receipt of the remaining $15,000, but has received no assurances that the over balance will be paid," the motion reads. "To the contrary, Mr. Buske's counsel responded that Mr. Buske 'has no money or job at the present time,' to meet this obligation, even though the Parties expressly agreed that the funds were supposed to come directly from the proceeds of the aforementioned tax refund checks."

In footnote three at the bottom of the motion's second page, Velloff notes that the outstanding amount "is particularly galling," in light of what Velloff argues was the loan in question, which he claims was unauthorized and in violation of court orders.

The motion goes on ask the court to order the repayment from escrow funds.

The Buske divorce was originally overseen by Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey.

It was later reassigned to Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman.

According to the case docket, the case file has been sent to Madison County Associate Judge Elizabeth Levy.

Thomas Buske is represented in the divorce by Vickie Cochran, Richard Meives and others.

Sara Buske is represented by Thomas Feldman and others.

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

The case is Madison case number 08-D-560.

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