Hertel and Fowler court ordered to appear
June 7, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
Following an emergency motion, a federal judge ordered R.W Hertel and Sons’ principles Ronald Hertel and Robert Fowler to appear in bankruptcy court or face possible arrest, according to the June 4 order.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robin Riblet signed the order following an emergency and ex parte motion by court assigned trustee Sandra McBeth.
“Due to the many allegations of impropriety and the inability to obtain information, the appearance of the principles Fowler and Hertel, are absolutely necessary and time is of the essence,” McBeth says in her motion in which she also notes the “threat of actual removal or destruction of assets of this case.”
Fowler and Hertel failed to appear at meetings the bankruptcy court scheduled for April 6 and 22. It is highly unusual for the bankruptcy court to order a debtor in an involuntary bankruptcy to appear at a bankruptcy meeting.
If the pair fails to appear, the bankruptcy court “shall issue an order to show cause,” according to the court order. In cases of contempt, information regarding the failure to comply are presented to a district court where an arrest warrant or fine may be levied.
Three creditors forced the financially troubled contractors into involuntary bankruptcy on January 29 in an attempt to recoup a $42,000 debt. Failing to make payments on loans totaling more than $45 million for their yachts, jets, and properties has buried the pair in a long list of foreclosures and property seizures.
On May 28, Fowler contacted trustee McBeth by telephone and though he agreed to answer questions, he informed the trustee he did not plan to appear in court.
“I advised Fowler that the continued hearing was set for June 8 at 4:30,” McBeth says in her motion. “He indicated he was not available that day, and further, that he was not comfortable with attending a hearing and testifying to facts related to the corporation.”
McBeth was unable to contact Hertel.
“Without their testimony, I am unable to perform my duties as a Chapter 7 trustee,” McBeth added in her motion. “A copy of an (CalCoastNews) article discussing the seizure of assets, as well as the documents received from the County of San Luis Obispo showing the transfer of real estate by the debtors profit sharing plan are attached hereto as exhibit A.”
Hertel and Fowler have been deeding properties and holdings to area developers as recently as last week, according to documents filed with the county clerk recorder’s office.