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BREAKING: Jury finds Premier's White guilty

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A Marion County jury this evening found Christopher P. White guilty of three Class C felonies related to a $500,000 bad check he wrote last year in a last-ditch attempt to save his locally based development firm, Premier Properties USA Inc.

After a two-day trial in Marion Superior Court and two hours of deliberations starting at 3:45 p.m. today, the jury returned with guilty verdicts on charges of fraud on a financial institution, check fraud and theft. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23.

White, 52, could face jail time. He allegedly wrote the check to cover payroll as financial and legal troubles were mounting for the company. The check, deposited to an account at The National Bank of Indianapolis, was drawn on an account at JP Morgan Chase that never had a balance of more than $1,000, the prosecutor's office said.

George Keely, an executive at The National Bank of Indianapolis, testified that the bank quickly closed 12 accounts tied to White to limit the bank's exposure after it learned of the bad check. But White promised the bank the money was coming, so it waited several weeks before it launched a lawsuit and consulted with the prosecutor's office in March 2008. Ultimately, the bank lost about $382,000.

Defense attorney Thomas Collignon said White anticipated receiving funds from a deal in Las Vegas and that he never intended to come up short in the account.

Premier built a reputation for taking on daring projects with little margin for error, including Metropolis mall in Plainfield, but when credit markets tightened, troubles quickly mounted. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2008. A month later, a judge converted the case to Chapter 7 and ordered the company to be liquidated.
 

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  1. PJ - Mall operators like Simon, and most developers/ land owners, establish individual legal entities for each property to avoid having a problem location sink the ship, or simply structure the note to exclude anything but the property acting as collateral. Usually both. The big banks that lend are big boys that know the risks and aren't mad at Simon for forking over the deed and walking away.

  2. Do any of the East side residence think that Macy, JC Penny's and the other national tenants would have letft the mall if they were making money?? I have read several post about how Simon neglected the property but it sounds like the Eastsiders stopped shopping at the mall even when it was full with all of the national retailers that you want to come back to the mall. I used to work at the Dick's at Washington Square and I know for a fact it's the worst performing Dick's in the Indianapolis market. You better start shopping there before it closes also.

  3. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  4. If you only knew....

  5. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

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