Mum’s the word

Judge says Parsons can take Fifth

click to enlarge Jeff Parsons - PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE
PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE
Jeff Parsons
Jeff Parsons
PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE
Faced with a federal criminal investigation, entrepreneur Jeffrey Parsons can keep his mouth shut in court fights pitting the trustee in his bankruptcy case against car dealer Todd Green and a Texas auction company.

Trustee Jeffrey Richardson wants Green to return money he made in deals with Parsons for a Panther Creek home and a boat. Parsons paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Green, much of it in silver coins, for the luxury home and boat. Richardson says the deals were improper because THR and Associates, Parsons’ Springfield-based company that declared bankruptcy in 2012, was insolvent when Green acquired the boat and home, then flipped them to Parsons, who used company assets to make the deals.

Green says that he had no reason to suspect that Parsons was anything but legit and so should not be required to turn over money to creditors. Money between Green and Parsons flowed through United Community Bank, and Richardson has also asked that the bank surrender funds. Like Green, the bank says that it acted in good faith.


Richardson also wants money from Heritage Auctions, a Dallas auction house that sold coins, guitars, artwork and other goods for THR, which acquired the merchandise in buying events, typically set up in hotels, across the nation. Richardson says that the auction house had $2 million worth of THR goods when the company declared bankruptcy, and Heritage received more than $2.4 million from sales of THR goods in the months before and immediately after the bankruptcy filing. He is asking that the auction company provide an accounting of THR property it possessed when THR declared bankruptcy. He also wants the auction house to surrender more than $2.4 million from sales of THR goods in the months before and immediately after THR sought bankruptcy protection.

Accused by Richardson of fraud and hiding assets, Parsons is now under criminal investigation. During depositions last spring, Parsons took the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times, refusing to answer any questions about his dealings with either Green or Heritage (“Unanswered Questions,” Dec. 3, 2015). His reticence prompted Richardson to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Gorman to order Parsons to answer questions.

On Monday, Gorman denied Richardson’s request and ruled that Parsons has a right to remain silent.

“The threat of a criminal prosecution of Mr. Parsons because of his involvement in the activities of THR is real, and his assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege is not frivolous,” Gorman wrote in her ruling. “It is unclear what crimes the U.S. attorney might be investigating, and there are many financial and tax-related crimes that could arise from the improper or illegal operation of a business such as THR.”


Attorneys for Parsons could not be reached for comment.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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