Soddy Daisy tax advisor Jack E. Brown has retained a criminal attorney in the case in which he is being investigated on allegations of running a $12 million Ponzi Scheme, attorneys said Thursday in Bankruptcy Court.
He and the criminal attorney are set to meet with prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office, Bankruptcy Judge John Cook was told.
However, Tom Ray, attorney for the 58-year-old Brown in his involuntary bankruptcy, said, "Mr. Brown is on the verge of dying."
Attorneys sparred before Judge Cook on the issue of interviewing Brown concerning what family property should be exempted from the bankruptcy and retained by the family and the "four days of questioning" that bankruptcy trustee Jerry Farinash said he has concerning the Ponzi Scheme.
Judge Cook said those should be separate interviews. It was agreed that Brown will be interviewed by phone on the exempt property.
Attorney Ray said there was very little property the family is asking to keep, including "some forks, knives and spoons." He said, "That's what makes this very puzzling to say the least."
He said the bankruptcy case should be wound up, saying Brown has no funds left to pay him. "That is long gone."
But he said, "I think there is a concerted effort to run out the clock on Mr. Brown."
A creditors meeting is set for March 26 at the basement of Bankruptcy Court, but attorney Ray said Brown will not be able to come by ambulance for that meeting. He said he might be able to talk by telephone.
However, both attorneys noted that he can only talk for short periods of time due to his health problems.
Trustee Farinash said, "He's a very sick man. His ability to answer questions is very limited. We may not get 30 minutes."
He said at one point he was told that Brown was anxious to answer questions, then he later was told he will "plead the Fifth" when queried about his dealings with "investors" over a lengthy time period.
U.S. Trustee Bill Sonnenberg said a creditors meeting cannot be held where Brown was staying at the home of a relative, but has to be with security at the Bankruptcy Court on 11th Street.
He noted that "emotions are high" in the case and "millions of dollars are at stake."
Trustee Sonnenberg said, "There has to be a meeting of creditors and it's not going to be at somebody's house."
At one point he told attorney Ray, "Please don't snicker. I don't think that will be picked up by the court reporter."
Attorney Ray said Brown has been staying with relatives because he feared for his safety and that of his family if he remained at his house.
The attorney said when Brown is finally interviewed "he may take the Fifth, or he may testify. But he has a very short attention span and ability to speak."