Almost two years after the late Robert McLean's multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme began to unravel, the trustee administering his bankruptcy case is once again suing people who received money from him.
Trustee Bob Waldschmidt last week filed four lawsuits in Nashville's U.S. Bankruptcy Court in an effort to recover a total of $1.9 million in funds for distribution to creditors of McLean. The litigation alleges that 19 individuals and one charity got gifts or other payments from McLean that rightfully belong in his bankruptcy estate.
Waldschmidt previously sued several people who had reaped returns on their investments with McLean, including an 88-year-old widow. He also reached legal settlements with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Middle Tennessee State University, which had each gotten major donations from McLean that the trustee deemed fraudulent conveyances.
Waldschmidt has previously explained that he considers himself legally bound to take such actions in the interest of all creditors in the case.
McLean, of Murfreesboro, committed suicide in September 2007, two months after his fraud came to light. Court filings indicate he misappropriated more than $40 million in investor funds during the last few years of his life.
One of the new legal actions, available at this link, seeks a total of $976,000 from 17 men who became acquainted with McLean "while students at MTSU, or through other non-business-related contacts." It states that McLean made gifts to the individuals "or paid college expenses or tuition" for them.
Efforts to reach the defendants in that case for whom contact information is available have been unsuccessful.
Another complaint targets Murfreesboro CPA Mark S. Riddle, who was McLean's accountant. Waldschmidt says that $480,000 received by Riddle from McLean over the years consisted of "'loans" or 'gifts' by the Debtor; he received no consideration for the transfers." The lawsuit seeks the return of those funds.
Riddle issued a statement last night after NashvillePost.com notified him of the lawsuit. "This is an old issue that I thought had been resolved long ago," he said. "I furnished bank records which showed I had not accumulated any McLean funds over those years. Bob made, and I repaid to him, numerous working capital loans during those years.
"This trustee should take a lesson from the Madoff trustee and stick to suing people who ended up with a net profit from McLean, not those who have a net loss. But then how would he and his staff/contract subordinates get paid so handsomely?"
Other lawsuits filed last week seek $348,000 from Ronnie Martin, McLean's adopted son, and $94,000 from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Waldschmidt says McLean gave that charity money in "a conscious effort... to improve his image in the Nashville and Murfreesboro communities, such that he could entice new lenders/investors to loan him money in furtherance of his Ponzi scheme."
Martin could not be reached in recent days. A Cystic Fibrosis Foundation spokesperson has not responded to a request for comment.