Close Partner of Ag Secretary Files for Chapter 11
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) _ John ″Bill″ Curry, the financially troubled business partner of U.S. Agriculture Secretary John Block, filed for financial reorganization under federal bankruptcy law Wednesday, his lawyer said.
Curry listed liabilities of nearly $20.2 million and mortgaged collateral of about $19.3 million, said his attorney, Barry Barash. Some unencumbered assets exist, Barash said.
″Bill will not be insolvent in the balance-sheet sense, but he can’t pay his bills as they become due and that’s the reason for his filing,″ he said.
Curry, of Galesburg, entered farm-related ventures with Block in Illinois and Minnesota. He also was involved independently in ventures in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.
Curry likely will be unable to repay creditors - including Block - 100 percent of what he owes, Barash said from his Galesburg office.
″It (the filing) allows a breathing space to allow him to try to figure out a schedule for repaying his creditors,″ he said.
Curry, on behalf of himself and his wife, Edna, filed for a Chapter 11 reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Peoria.
Block last month said he was negotiating to dissolve his financial ties with Curry. He has said his personal fortunes were not linked to Curry’s, but ″cross-default″ agreements between them indicate that a Curry collapse could damage Block’s own indebted position.
Block, who owns a 3,000-acre family hog and grain farm southeast of Galesburg, lists substantially more debts than assets on federal dislcosure forms. Experts have said, however, that the forms do not give a clear enough picture to determine how much more debt Block could assume.
″I think the secretary’s financial position is linked with Bill’s. I’ve never said anything other than that,″ said Barash.
The Currys signed dissolution papers and sent them to Block’s lawyer, John Hattery of Galesburg, but the documents have not yet been returned with Block’s signature, he said.
Under the dissolution agreement, Curry would transfer interests in joint ventures to Block and their ventures’ other investors, Barash said.
Because the value of those interests has declined, however, Curry also is giving Block and the partners unsecured notes for $250,000 to cover extra debt they would assume.
Jerry Waller, a spokesman for Block in Washington, said he did not know whether the secretary had signed the dissolution papers.
Hattery, Block’s attorney, was in a meeting and did not return telephone calls to his office.