Friday, February 19, 2010
Wife: Frank McCourt misleading court
LOS ANGELES -- The estranged wife of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wants nearly $1 million per month in temporary support, arguing that he is trying to mislead the court about his financial resources.
The amount was revealed in a 1,423-page court filing unsealed Thursday in which Jamie McCourt's lawyers allege Frank McCourt and his advisers manipulated financial statements in order to estimate his net worth at $163 million. This lower figure was revealed nine months after estimating his net worth at $835 million in another statement.
"What has occurred here is some extensive planning for divorce court in terms of attempting to diminish on paper the value of the Dodgers," said Jamie McCourt's attorney, Dennis Wasser. "The team is a very profitable organization."
The Dodgers' revenue has nearly doubled under the couple's management from $156 million in 2004 to $295 million in 2008, according to court documents.
Dodger officials have maintained the couple's divorce proceedings wouldn't have a significant impact in the offseason. However, the team dealt outfielder Juan Pierre to the Chicago White Sox in a salary-cutting move, and its biggest free-agent signings were infielder Jamey Carroll, outfielder Reed Johnson and the return of closer Eric Gagne.
Jamie McCourt, the team's former CEO, initially asked for $488,000 per month when she filed for divorce in October. The revised request asks for nearly $989,000 per month. The amount reflects bills and other records that her lawyers say show the couple averaged $2.3 million per month since they bought the Dodgers in 2004.
"Jamie McCourt's recent court filings, which demand grotesque sums of money to meet her day-to-day 'personal requirements,' are astonishing," said Marc Seltzer, an attorney for Frank McCourt. "In addition, rather than shedding light on the relevant issues, her scorched-earth spin campaign is clearly designed to harm the reputation and livelihood of others. We remain completely confident in the merits of Mr. McCourt's position."
Frank McCourt would still have $1.3 million per month to live on, her lawyers wrote. The filing added he lives in a "luxury hotel in Beverly Hills," has spent $52,000 on clothes since November and keeps two of his sons on the payroll at a combined annual salary of $600,000, despite one working at Goldman Sachs and another attending graduate school at Stanford University.
"Jamie fully recognizes that the ... award which she will be seeking will be viewed by many people as being astronomical," according to the filing. "That may very well be the case. But Jamie's request also has been thoroughly documented ... as being wholly consistent with the parties' marital lifestyle."
The filing also gave insight into how the McCourt enterprise -- a set of family companies -- allocated its money to meet the demands of the couple's luxurious lifestyle.
"The projected 'family' needs for the upcoming year would be determined and it then became the responsibility of executives of the McCourt enterprise to ensure that sufficient funds would be available to satisfy those needs."
Each party is expected to file additional papers before the March 29 hearing on spousal support.
The trial to determine ownership of the Dodgers is set for May 24. Frank McCourt has claimed he is the team's sole owner, citing an agreement in which he gets the couple's business interests and she gets their residential property. But Jamie McCourt said she is a co-owner.
The filing also said the Dodgers plan to launch cable channels in English and Spanish in 2014 and remain interested in building an NFL stadium adjacent to Dodger Stadium.
The McCourt company spent more than $2.5 million between 2008 and 2009 to explore other ventures, including the acquisition of a soccer team in the English Premier League, according to the court documents. But since the couple is now going through a divorce, those plans have been put "on hold."