House pinball machine Romano fights against the lender’s lawsuit; trial scheduled for March
By blaming their dispute on a real estate attorney, a bankrupt local pinball machine appears to be heading for a lawsuit against one of its former lenders.
Josh Romano and Tuckahoe Funding LLC, a so-called heavy money lender owned by William Everette Starke Jr., are set to face each other in a two-day trial that begins March 22 in federal court in Richmond.
Tuckahoe financing filed a complaint against Romano in mid-August, accusing him of fraud and embezzlement for allegedly making misleading statements to their mutual real estate lawyer, which resulted in the embezzlement of funds intended for some residential rehabilitation projects.
Romano has since filed a response to the lawsuit, denying the allegations and blaming the missing funds on attorney, Page Allen of S. Page Allen & Associates, based in Midlothian.
Romano claims the funds – at least $ 750,000, according to Starke’s lawsuit – were never paid to him and, as far as he knows, are still with Allen. He also maintains that all cash draws received from Allen were used for properties that he and Starke had agreed to, and that Starke’s lawsuit is based solely on statements from Allen’s company according to which funds were misdistributed to Romano.
The response calls for the lawsuit to be dismissed with prejudice and for the court to grant Romano whatever relief it deems appropriate.
The trial takes place as part of the Romano Chapter 7 proceedings that has been in progress since October 2018. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the $ 750,000 Starke is seeking to raise from being released in the bankruptcy case.
According to the lawsuit, the amount was part of funds that Starke loaned to Romano’s Cobblestone Development Group through the Allen company, which was responsible for disbursing construction drawings for work on 21 properties.
After about a third of the funds were said to have been withdrawn, the lawsuit says, Starke sought to take back Romano’s draws in late 2017 and learned that the funds that would remain had, in fact, been paid to Romano without his permission. The lawsuit alleges that Romano gave the law firm explicit instructions to withdraw these funds to be used on the properties, but instead spent them on other projects or expenses.
In his response, Romano claims that he was the one who brought Starke’s attention to the missing funds after he was suspicious of Allen’s accounting when he asked for drawings and was told that there were no funds available.
After asking his own accountant and an outside forensic accountant to investigate the case, Romano says it was discovered that the law firm was not holding as many funds as its records reflected and calculated. wrong interest rates on funds, among other alleged spreads.
Starke’s lawsuit says her LLC mitigated some of her alleged damage by reaching a settlement with the law firm, which she said was unaware of what Romano was doing with the funds. Romano’s response indicates that Starke ended his relationship with Allen and sued his firm for malpractice before settling the case with the firm’s professional liability insurance company.
BizSense has reached out to Allen for comment on this story. A voicemail message left at his office on Wednesday and an email on Thursday were not answered.
Chad Edwards of Virginia Beach Edwards Law is representing Romano in this case. He declined to comment. Tuckahoe Funding is represented by lawyers for Williams Mullen, William Bayliss and Joseph Blackburn III.
In his Chapter 7 filing, Romano listed nearly $ 770,000 in debt owed to 75 creditors. The deposit came months after Romano started to downsize its Cobblestone brand amid the financial and legal issues that had started to accumulate in early 2018.