Original Brass Shoppe in Chapter 7 bankruptcy

July 15, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

The owner of the Original Brass Shoppe in historic Ellicott City has filed for personal bankruptcy, leaving a string of frustrated and angry customers who apparently had paid for unreceived merchandise.

Lawrence Michael Bolet of Columbia owes $342,868, according to Chapter 7 bankruptcy documents filed July 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore.

More than 100 creditors from Ellicott City, Columbia and other suburbs are listed in the filing.

Repeated efforts to reach Mr. Bolet were unsuccessful.

Leasing agents at Fairway Pointe Apartments in Columbia, where Mr. Bolet lists his address, said that he moved out unexpectedly July 6.

The Original Brass Shoppe closed July 2.

Since then, numerous of its customers have called Consumer Affairs of Howard County, which handles complaints and charges of unfair and deceptive trade practices, said Consumer Affairs administrator Stephen D. Hannan.

"We've gotten a lot of calls from people asking, 'Where's my money?' " Mr. Hannan said. He assigned two people full-time to answer the calls.

Callously humorous cards have appeared throughout the week inside the front window of the store at 8444 Main St.: "Gone out of business. Tough Luck," and "Closed: company picnic."

Mr. Hannan said Consumer Affairs is giving callers the address of U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and telling them how to reverse credit card charges at the Original Brass Shoppe.

If customers wrote checks or paid cash for unreceived merchandise, they must appear in bankruptcy court to get the problem resolved, he said.

"They have to get in line with everybody else," Mr. Hannan said.

Bankruptcy trustee Marc H. Baer said he does not know whether customers will get their money back.

"It's going to depend on what's there and who has priority," Mr. Baer said.

Before customers can be paid back, all taxes, attorneys and any administrative costs associated with bankruptcy court must be paid, Mr. Baer said.

To settle Mr. Bolet's debts, the trustee said, he will probably sell inventory, machinery, automobiles and other items.

Mr. Bolet, however, can exempt about $6,000 worth of personal property, Mr. Baer said.

Under Chapter 7, a bankruptcy trustee liquidates all the debtor's property, with certain exceptions allowed by law.

The trustee will sell the remaining property for the benefit of creditors.

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