Court delays trial of Bibelot owners

Bank of America pursuing suit against Weeses in Cook Islands

May 11, 2002|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

A trial that was to begin Monday in a lawsuit charging that the owners of the defunct Bibelot book chain defrauded Bank of America has been postponed indefinitely as the bank pursues an overseas lawsuit against them.

The discovery period in the suit, filed by the bank in Baltimore County Circuit Court against Brian D. and Elizabeth G. Weese, was extended until Dec. 31, but a trial date was not rescheduled, according to a court filing.

Discovery is the phase in which parties exchange documents and information, and conduct depositions in preparation for trial.

Bank of America also filed a lawsuit against the Weeses in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, alleging that the couple fraudulently shifted millions of dollars to an offshore account there to evade paying creditors. That case is scheduled for trial in February.

In the Baltimore County and Cook Islands cases, the courts have issued injunctions ordering the Weeses not to use or transfer the money.

An attorney for Bank of America declined to comment. The Weeses' attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Bank of America is owed $15.5 million by the Weeses. In May 1999, the bank gave Bibelot a $17 million loan that was personally guaranteed by Elizabeth Weese, who, according to court documents, had a net worth of $41 million at the time.

A year later, Bibelot defaulted on the loan. Bank of America tried to collect but discovered that the Weeses had shifted $25 million of their personal assets to offshore trusts. The book chain declared bankruptcy in March last year.

Other creditors of the Weeses include Allfirst Bank, Community Banks NA and MART Ltd., which are collectively owed about $10 million.

The couple are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore. Last month, the judge in the Weeses' bankruptcy case appointed a trustee to oversee their bankruptcy case because the court lacked confidence that the Weeses would act in the interests of their creditors.

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