SIDNEY – Ronald U. Schulze, the Fort Loramie insurance and investment representative, who is being accused of misleading local clients into what was ultimately a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The move has temporarily halted all action involving three civil lawsuits filed against him in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
The 64-year-old Schulze, through his attorney Michael A. Cox of Columbus, is claiming to have business-related indebtedness between $1 million to $10 million noting between one to 49 creditors. He is claiming assets from $500,000 to $1 million. However, no specific lists of assets and liabilities were included.
On July 9, the case was filed in Southern District U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dayton. However, the following day Judge Guy Humphrey issued an order that Schulze’s 10-page filing was deficient of 15 pages of essential information. Schulze has until Monday, July 23, to submit the needed paperwork or face having the case dismissed.
Cox did not respond to attempts by the SDN to seek comment.
The original filing lists Schulze as the sole proprietor of Ronald Schulze Financial Services, LLC. The filing also includes a list of 21 families and individuals without any reference to the list’s significance. The list includes the plaintiffs and attorneys for all local civil suits, his wife Victoria Schulze, other Schulze family members, and others with addresses from throughout Darke, Shelby and Auglaize counties.
Although named as a co-defendant in the local court action, Mrs. Schulze, is not included as a debtor in the bankruptcy filing.
Chapter 13 allows options
According to the information on the website for the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, an explanation of the Chapter 13 filing can be found at www.law.cornell.edu.
It states, “Chapter 13 permits the discharge of some debt, as well as the repayment of other debt over a period of three to five years. It may also permit a reduction in principal owed on secured debt, or the elimination of these debts altogether.”
“It can also be used to structure a repayment plan for debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Only individuals may file under this chapter, and there are some limited income and debt qualifications.”
It continues, “Typically, recent tax debt as well as child support, criminal restitution, and student loans will not be discharged in bankruptcy unless they are repaid in full by the debtor during the course of the proceeding.”
“Individuals are permitted to keep certain assets without regard to the type of bankruptcy sought. For example, Individual Retirement Accounts are protected under Subchapter 522(d) of Title 11 and thus cannot be involuntarily used to repay creditors in a bankruptcy. Varying levels of home equity are also often protected, as are personal vehicles in varying amounts.”
Bankruptcy action delays local civil cases
The bankruptcy action deflects any action in the local court proceedings until the outcome of the bankruptcy case is determined.
Local plaintiffs include Wanda Caudill, of Sidney, John Seger, of Fort Loramie, and Barbara Brunswick, of Minster. Collectively, the trio are seeking the return of a total of $754,809 in funds invested through Schulze into Woodbridge accounts.
Court records claim the plaintiffs were persuaded to invest the money into illegally sold securities. Attorneys claim Schulze is not licensed to sell such securities.
On Dec. 20, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Woodbridge and the company’s founder, Robert Shapiro, in Florida. Court records indicate Shapiro used money invested in Woodbridge to live a lavish lifestyle and for his own use. The lawsuit indicates Shapiro was responsible for $1.22 billion in investments.
Schulze, through his attorney Roger Sugarman of Columbus, contends he has never met Shapiro, was unaware of Shapiro’s financial activities, and, in fact, had invested a large amount of his personal funds into the same Shapiro-owned accounts.
While Schulze reportedly gave up his securities license in 2008, Sugarman contends the Woodbridge products were not securities indicating his client was not selling products illegally.
This week, Mrs. Caudill’s attorney Chad Kohler of Columbus said his client intends to challenge the discharge ability of any debt owed by Schulze in the bankruptcy court.
Sidney attorney Rich Wallace, who represents Seger, told the SDN with the bankruptcy case was in the early stages an exact response of his client is being reviewed.
When contacted, Benjamin Segel, of Columbus, attorney for Brunswick, told the SDN that his client prefers he not make any comments to the media regarding her case.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News