Collateral Damage

Conflicting financial statements from 1990 may leave Symington vulnerable to creditors and prosecutors

If Symington's "readily marketable securities" are actually part of the trust, the pension funds may be able to stake a direct claim to the governor's trust funds.

"I'd love to see if this [securities listed on the pension fund statement] is the Frick Trust. Because if it is, and he listed it as an asset, then it should be something we can go after [in bankruptcy court]," a pension fund source says.

If the pension funds convince the bankruptcy court that Symington obtained the pension fund loan by submitting a fraudulent or misleading financial statement, the court could exclude Symington's $11.5 million debt to the pension funds from the bankruptcy case. The pension funds could then try to collect the debt from Symington indefinitely.

Such a scenario would make it difficult forSymington to keep the pension funds from laying claim to the roughly $38,000 a year recent disclosure forms say he now receives from his Frick Trusts.

The federal grand jury probing Symington's personal finances might also take interest in Symington's claim to the pension fund of "readily marketable securities."

Symington did not return New Times' calls seeking comment.
Symington filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy September 20 to discharge all of his $24.8million in debts. His largest single debt is the $11.5 million owed to union pension funds. Symington defaulted on the $10million pension fund loan for the Mercado project in 1992; the pension funds won their $11.5 million judgment against the governor in August.

Since the bankruptcy filing, the governor has claimed the spendthrift provisions render the Frick Trusts exempt from creditors.

"The trust income and principal do not become part of the bankruptcy estate," the governor stated in a press release issued on the day he filed bankruptcy.

The trusts were created by the governor's late grandfather, Childs Frick, son of wealthy industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick. Childs Frick had four children, one of whom is Symington's mother.

Other details released by Symington about the family trust may now come back to haunt the governor. His September 20 press release, for example, states: "A spendthrift trust contains language that prevents the beneficiary from transferring or assigning, voluntarily or involuntarily, his right to future income from, or the principal of, the trust."

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