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Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 04:02 pm

Do not pass go, do not collect $200 – no, wait

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Jeffrey Parsons
PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE

Jeffrey Parsons, owner of a failed business empire built on buying and reselling gold and silver, has dodged a stint in jail for defying a court order to declare bankruptcy and disclose, under oath, his assets and liabilities.

For more than a month, Parsons has been telling Sangamon County associate judge Steven Nardulli, who is presiding in Parsons’ divorce case, that he intends to declare bankruptcy. During an Aug. 29 hearing in the divorce case, Nardulli ordered Parsons to do it by midnight last Saturday.

“If large corporations can file bankruptcy petitions, somehow I think Mr. Parsons can figure out a way to file a bankruptcy petition,” Nardulli told Parsons’ attorney Gregory Scott during the Aug. 29 hearing. “Quite frankly, your client has zero credibility as far as I’m concerned. … If I thought that he was as incompetent as he would like me to believe right now, there is no way in the world he would have accumulated what he accumulated up to this point.”

THR & Associates, a Springfield-based company founded by Parsons, had revenue of more than $200 million last year, according to testimony in the divorce case. The company best known for purchasing precious metal at buying events set up in hotels around the nation also operated a retail store in Springfield that closed last month. The company is facing at least 30 lawsuits, many filed by creditors, and thousands of checks written to customers who sold valuables to THR have bounced. Criminal investigations are underway in several states.

During hearings last week and on Tuesday, Nardulli said that he is concerned about assets under Parsons’ control disappearing while the divorce case is pending. Saying that a bankruptcy court is best suited to take control of assets, Nardulli on Aug. 29 set a deadline of midnight last Saturday for Parsons to file for bankruptcy.

“It’s my intention to put him in the Sangamon County jail until it’s filed if he doesn’t get it filed (by the deadline),” Nardulli said last week. “(His bankruptcy attorney) and everybody else can find him over there and he can deal with the paperwork from the Sangamon County jail.”

Saturday came and went, and Parsons was back before Nardulli on Tuesday morning, joined by Scott and John Narmont, a bankruptcy attorney who is representing THR & Associates. Neither Parsons nor the company had met the judge’s deadline.

“We have been working on putting the paperwork together,” Narmont told Nardulli. “This is a very complicated case.”

So complicated, in fact, that another attorney will be needed to help with the bankruptcy filing, Narmont said. Parsons, however, is prepared for bankruptcy and has gone so far as to complete a credit-counseling course required of debtors in bankruptcy court, Narmont said. Assets are numerous and scattered, he said, and a bankruptcy petition, even if filed in form only, would soon be dismissed without documents detailing both assets and liabilities, he said.

“There’s trucks and trailers and equipment gathered here, yither and yon,” Narmont said.
In the end, Nardulli extended his deadline and gave Parsons until Monday to declare bankruptcy. He did not rule on a request by Scott to give both Parsons and his estranged wife $15,000 a month for living expenses out of escrowed funds. Parsons has been paying his estranged wife $25,000 a month but says he’s out of money since his business has failed.

“I hope she’s saved some money,” Nardulli said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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