The bizarre real estate dealings of ex-lawyer Chris Pettit

Less than two months before Christopher “Chris Pettit” law firm collapsed amid allegations that he stole millions of dollars from clients, he entered into a series of bizarre real estate deals.

He sold at least seven properties in the San Antonio area to the same buyer – Sin Reposo LLC. Among them was Petitt’s main law firm building at 11902 Rustic Lane.

Sin Reposo also entered the option to purchase from Pettit Mansion located at 555 Argyle Ave. in the Alamo Heights overlooking Olmos Dam, according to a bankruptcy court filing this week.

Additionally, the company acquired the property at 200 Alameda Circle in Olmos Park from Pettit in January.

Finally, the nine properties are valued at more than $10 million.

Sin Reposo’s sole member and director is Garrett Glass, who is also the CFO of EF EnergyFunders Inc. , an oil and gas investment firm based in Calgary but maintains its executive offices in San Antonio. I appointed him to this position in March.

Pettit was in contact with EnergyFunders until allegations that he looted clients became public. On May 20, the day after Express-News first reported his legal troubles, Pettit resigned from the board of directors of EnergyFunders, a small joint stock company that trades on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada.

More than a dozen lawsuits were filed against Pettit and his law firm Chris Pettit & Associates before both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 1. Pettit listed $27.8 million in assets and $115.2 million in debt in his personal bankruptcy, making it among the largest ever in San’s. Antonio. Bankruptcies led to the case being suspended.

‘Ponzi scheme’

The bankruptcy court alleged that Pettit ran a “Madoff-style Ponzi scheme for years”. Bernard “Bernie” Madoff orchestrated the largest such scheme in history, resulting in combined losses estimated at $65 billion for thousands of victims. He died in prison last year at the age of 82.

Pettit had already given up his legal license when the bankruptcies were filed and the allegations against him sparked an FBI investigation. He was a lawyer specializing in estate planning and personal injury.

It is not possible to determine why Pettit entered into transactions with Sin Reposo or how they were organized. Two of his lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

In the filings he made, Pettit did not report an ownership interest in Sin Reposo.

Stephen J. said: Sinamo, a bankruptcy attorney in San Antonio, who was not involved in the case, said of the transfers: “It sounds questionable.” “It has to be looked at. The question is whether there is a problem with that.”

In individual bankruptcy petitions, debtors must complete a statement of finances. One of the questions on the form asks if the debtor has sold or transferred any property to anyone within two years of filing for bankruptcy.

Pettit replied “yes” but did not refer to the real estate given to Sin Reposo. He signed the form under penalty of perjury that his answers were correct.

“On the eve of filing the[bankruptcy]lawsuit, he made all these transfers, and didn’t disclose them under oath — and the guy is a lawyer. He knows this needs to be disclosed,” said Martin Seidler, a San Antonio bankruptcy attorney who represents the creditors in the case. Liar under oath.”

Other omissions?

Seidler wants Chief US Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargota to direct Pettit to adjust his bankruptcy schedules and financial statements within 10 days of a court order.

A judge is due to hear Seidler’s request on Monday.

Seidler claims Pettit omitted a lot of other information, including the transfer of two cars – a Mercedes and a Porsche – to his friend and the accountant.

Among the properties that Pettit transferred to Sin Reposo:

• House at 711 Contour Drive in Olmos Park. It was rated by Bexar’s valuation area at around $1.9 million.

• Property in 200 Alameda Circle, valued at $1.8 million. Since then, Sin Reposo has sold the property and the house has been demolished.

• Apartment building at 488 E. Olmos Drive, valued at approximately $594,000.

• A $1.2 million home at 772 Lakebreeze Drive in Lake Canyon.

• The building of his legal office with a value of 450,000 dollars.

Confusingly, Pettit reported in his property schedule that he owns or has an interest in the law firm’s building and Canyon Lake home.

In the same timeline, Pettit valued the mansion at 555 Argyle—for which Sin Reposo has a purchase option—at $3.6 million.

Transfer timings

The transfers occurred as some of Pettit’s clients secured huge court rulings against him and his company. A Spring couple was awarded $908,000 in actual damages and $500,000 in punitive damages in state district court in San Antonio. The April 6 ruling stated that the defendants “intentionally and deliberately committed the theft”.

A small group of creditors received a $2.4 million judgment on April 18 in Bexar County Probate Court.

The sales will likely come under scrutiny from San Antonio attorney Eric Terry, who has been appointed Chapter 11 trustee. His duties will include hiring professionals to track assets and client funds.

Since Pettit did not disclose sales in his bankruptcy form, it is not known if he received anything in return or what he might have done with the proceeds. This information must be reported on the form.

Terry would likely want to know if Pettit received “reasonably equivalent value” for the sale of real estate to Sin Reposo.

If he doesn’t, or if the transactions are deemed fraudulent because they were intended to keep funds out of bankruptcy, under the bankruptcy law, Terry can “avoid any transfer” of property within two years of filing the bankruptcy petition.

Besides his roles with Sin Reposo and EnergyFunders, Glass is the Director of Source-Texas LLC. It plans to develop a 600-unit condominium off Interstate 10 in the Scenic Loop-Boerne Stage Corridor.

Glass listed Sin Reposo’s address in government company records as his home in Olmos Park. He did not respond to messages requesting comment.

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