UPDATED to include comments from David Warfield, a lawyer for the unsecured creditors committee, and Scott Eisenberg, chief restructuring officer of US Fidelis.
Cory Atkinson might have given up his multimillion-dollar houses in Wentzville and near Lake Tahoe, but his wife isn't quite ready to part with the couple's fleet of vehicles.
Atkinson and his older brother, Darain, own Wentzville-based US Fidelis, but the men have had no control over the company since it filed for bankruptcy on March 1. An independent management team accused the brothers of running the company into the ground and pilfering more than $101 million that should have been used to pay creditors.
The company sued the brothers, and a settlement forced the Atkinsons to surrender virtually their entire fortunes. Under the deal, the brothers' wives were allowed to keep $500,000 each plus some vehicles, home furnishings and other items.
The wives aren't allowed to let their husbands control that money or have any ownership stake in any possessions kept under the settlement.
Now Heather Atkinson, the wife of Cory Atkinson, is seeking court approval to buy back the bankrupt company six cars, a pickup truck and a motorcycle that belonged to her and her husband. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
She wants to use a $50,000 vehicle allowance provided by the settlement -- plus $2,281 extra -- to get back a 2009 Dodge Ram, a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban and a 1969 Dodge Super Bee. In addition, Heather Atkinson wants to pay $83,500 to buy back a 2005 Ford Mustang, a 2009 Cadillac Escalade, a 2009 Jeep Wrangler, a 2009 Harley-Davidson Heritage motorcycle and a 2008 Mercedes C350 sedan.
David Warfield, a lawyer for a committee of unsecured creditors, said that he plans to object to Heather Atkinson's motion and that expects other to do so, as well.
Scott Eisenberg, the turnaround expert who is running US Fidelis, said the company will object because it believes the vehicles are worth more than Heather Atkinson wants to pay.
Spencer Desai, a bankruptcy lawyer representing Cory and Heather Atkinson, said there's nothing unusual about Heather Atkinson wanting to buy back vehicles from the bankruptcy estate.
"It nets immediate cash for the creditors and saves the estate the cost, time and risk of selling the asset," Desai said in an e-mail. "I suspect my client will sell some of the vehicles down the road once she makes some final decisions on her future."
Desai said the pickup proved handy lately, when the couple moved out of their $10 million Wentzville home. Another vehicle "is being rebuilt and has some sentimental value," he said.
Before it stopped selling extended auto-service contracts late last year, US Fidelis was the nation's No. 1 seller of those aftermarket vehicle-protection plans and one of St. Charles County's biggest employers. The company imploded last year amidst allegations of fraudulent business practices.