Two days before a hearing in a contentious Edwardsville divorce, the presiding judge in the case has entered an order resolving several issues in the case including whether a soon-to-be ex-wife can continue to receive $10,000 monthly maintenance payouts.
Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman entered his four-page order Feb. 17.
In the order, Chapman ruled on several objections to a release of funds motion filed by S.C. Johnson last month in the divorce of Edwardsville couple Thomas and Sara Buske.
Chapman heard arguments on the matter Feb. 11.
Sara Buske filed the June 2008 divorce eight days after a $203.8 million civil judgment was entered against her husband in Wisconsin.
S.C. Johnson and Sons, Inc. sued Thomas Buske for allegedly defrauding the company of millions of dollars using inflated invoices from his trucking concerns.
He also faces federal charges related to the alleged fraud in Wisconsin. He has pled not guilty.
Sara Buske filed for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and mental cruelty.
S.C. Johnson intervened in the divorce, alleging it was designed to hide monies owed to the company under the Wisconsin judgment.
The three parties reached a settlement in the case Dec. 1, 2009 but a final judgment of dissolution has yet to be entered.
Another hearing in the Buske divorce is set today at 1:30 p.m. Issues that could be addressed include the dissolution judgment, a trust for the Buske children established in the divorce's December settlement and other matters.
Sara Buske's attorney, Dennis Orsey, argued at the Feb. 11 hearing that Sara Buske was still entitled to receive $10,000 a month in maintenance from escrow accounts at the Bank of Edwardsville under a May 2009 order entered by then-presiding judge, Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey.
The payments, in Orsey's argument, were separate from the $325,000 Sara Buske agreed to take in the December settlement because Bailey's order was never vacated.
S.C. Johnson argued that the divorce settlement kept Sara Buske from receiving the three payments that followed the Dec. 1, 2009 settlement because it precluded "any other" support.
In the Feb. 17, Chapman writes that Sara Buske's claim on the continued $10,000 a month payments is "based on conflicting positions."
"Given the conflicting position, the court approved settlement should control," Chapman wrote.
He wrote that Bailey's May, 28, 2009 order was not intended to overrule the settlement agreement.
He ordered that the $30,000 Sara Buske has received since the settlement agreement would be an advance on the $325,000.
Chapman's order also dealt with three of the objections raised by Thomas Buske's attorney, Richard Mieves, in a 53 paragraph response to S.C. Johnson's release of funds motion.
Mieves filed the responses Feb. 10 just prior to the Feb. 11 hearing.
Of the objections dealt with in Chapman's Feb. 17 order, the judge sustained Thomas Buske's objection that S.C. Johnson may not receive escrow funds previously designated to go to the Fitzgerald law firm.
Chapman overruled objections related to Thomas Buske's former company, TMT Properties, as the company is not a party to divorce.
Chapman noted that the issue of Sara Buske's possible contribution to Thomas Buske's legal fees had been settled by the December agreement contrary to the objection Thomas Buske raised in his Feb. 10 response.
Mieves had argued at the Feb. 11 hearing that the agreement only dealt with the legal fees issue between S.C. Johnson and the Buskes, not between Thomas and Sara Buske themselves.
"Husband argues that the parties' use of the word 'between,' as opposed to 'among', supports his interpretation," Chapman wrote. "The argument is rejected by the court. "
Chapman included a footnote in the order referencing the meaning of "between" and "among" and their interchangeable nature when related to splits between multiple parties.
Chapman also overruled a fifth objection raised at the Feb. 11 hearing.
Thomas Buske is represented by Mieves, Vicki Cochran and others.
Sara Buske is represented by Orsey, Howard Feldman and others.
S.C. Johnson is represented by Andrew Velloff, Thomas Keefe Jr. and others. Velloff argued for the company at the Feb. 11 hearing.