PTL Attorneys File Reorganization Plan in Bankruptcy Court
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ PTL lawyers filed a reorganization plan in bankruptcy court Wednesday that splits the evangelism empire built and lost by Jim Bakker into non-profit and for-profit operations.
Bakker and his wife, meanwhile, continued their telephone campaign against PTL Chairman Jerry Falwell.
Falwell, speaking earlier Wednesday on the televised ″PTL Club″ program, called the reorganization plan ″a good one and a fair one.″ Falwell took over the ministry when Bakker resigned March 19 amid a sex-and-money scandal.
The introduction to the 36-page reorganization plan says the Bakker administration left PTL struggling with $1.2 million in overdrawn bank accounts, losses of $3 million a month, and tax investigators in its offices.
The court had set Thursday as the deadline for PTL to file its reorganization plan.
PTL filed for reorganization in June under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which gives it protection from creditors. The ministry has debts of about $69 million and in March had assets of about $178 million, including its Heritage USA theme park in Fort Mill, S.C., a 16-store shopping mall and its television network.
PTL attorneys said the division into profit and non-profit corporations would keep money raised for charitable purposes separate from other enterprises.
Under the plan, the proposed ministry will own 60 percent of the for-profit corporation’s stock, with secured and non-secured creditors having the option of acquiring the remaining 40 percent.
Lifetime partners, who typically spent $1,000 in expectation of three nights’ lodging a year for life at a PTL hotel, are offered several options in the plan. Those include stock ownership and membership in a private club with discount privileges at PTL operations.
Walter Theus, a lawyer who helped draft the plan, said a disclosure statement explaining the reorganization plan will be filed Thursday.
The plan said PTL will pay taxes it owes the state of South Carolina and the federal government over a six-year period.
On Wednesday, Bakker and his wife Tammy again claimed Falwell snatched PTL away after warning them about a hostile takeover by rival television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. ″We’ll talk more about it tomorrow,″ they told callers to their for-pay telephone line.
Falwell and his associates ″actually came to our home I believe with the plan in their hearts and minds to take over PTL. ... even though they came to say that they were saving PTL for us,″ Bakker said on the taped message.
Mrs. Bakker said Falwell called the Rev. Richard Dortch, then PTL’s No. 2 executive, and said he had documents to prove that Swaggart wanted to take over.
Swaggart has denied that he ever had any takeover intentions.
Callers are charged $1.50 for the first minute and 35 cents for each additional minute of the messages, which run two to three minutes and are changed daily, said Fred Weiner, vice chairman of Phone Programs, a New York- based company.
The Bakkers will receive from 23 to 30 cents per call, according to a company spokesman, Charles DeNatale.
Meanwhile, a third man stepped forward to claim that he had had sex with Ms. Hahn, who has said she was a virgin at the time that Bakker forcibly had sex with her.
Rocco Riccobono, 35, a former member of Miss Hahn’s church in Massapequa, N.Y., told The Washington Post that she seduced him on the couch in his apartment in 1978 after his pregnant wife fell asleep.
″When I read she was saying she was a virgin, I flipped out,″ he was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s edition. ″She’s a manipulator, but that’s Jessica. I feel sorry for Jim Bakker.″
Two other men have claimed to have had affairs with Miss Hahn since the 1980 incident with Bakker.
Miss Hahn, who is on a two-week tour to promote an article in Playboy magazine in which she details her encounter with Bakker and also appears topless, denied Riccobono’s story Tuesday. She has also denied accounts by two other men who claimed to have been her lovers.
The Daily News in New York reported Miss Hahn has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about the possibility that some of the money for the settlement she made with PTL came from the scandal-ridden defense contractor Wedtech Corp.
Miss Hahn on Tuesday said she got $12,000 from the Rev. Aimee Garcia Cortese, sister of Rep. Robert Garcia, D-N.Y., to keep her from suing Bakker, the newspaper reported. Ms. Cortese was a former board member of the PTL ministry. Garcia, whose Bronx district includes Wedtech, is said to be under investigation in the Wedtech probe but he has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.
″It is correct that Jessica has been served ith a new subpoena,″ Miss Hahn’s attorney, Dominic Barbara, was quoted as saying in The New York Post. ″She is not a target in any way but will be giving information to the investigation tha the Bronx County has commenced in respect to PTL, Wedtech, Aimee Cortese, etc.″