- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Former heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe has filed for bankruptcy protection, months after a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge ordered him to pay millions of dollars resulting from business dealings with a D.C. security firm.

Mr. Bowe filed a Chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greenbelt on Saturday, listing more than $4.1 million in claims against him and beating a new federal law that took effect yesterday that makes it more difficult to avoid creditors in bankruptcy proceedings.

This summer, a Fairfax County judge ordered Mr. Bowe to pay more than $2.4 million to Vienna, Va.-based Commerce Funding Corp. The company is the boxer’s largest creditor.

The company said that Mr. Bowe, 38, of Fort Washington, defaulted on financing that it provided and that he guaranteed in 2002 to District-based Unlimited Security Inc., which posted hundreds of guards in D.C. government and federal buildings before its bankruptcy liquidation earlier this year.

The Washington Times reported in August that Mr. Bowe was a friend and business associate of Unlimited Security’s former chief executive, Jeffrey N. Jackson, who also ran a boxing promotions business.

Mr. Jackson filed for personal bankruptcy protection in Greenbelt in August, listing millions of dollars of debt to Commerce Funding, Mr. Bowe and the Internal Revenue Service.

According to court records, Mr. Bowe lent or invested more than $2 million in Unlimited Security between 2000 and 2002 as the company’s finances were worsening.

“I got burned,” the boxer told The Times in a recent interview.

Mr. Bowe’s attorney, Paul Nussbaum of Baltimore-based Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP, said the bankruptcy filing was driven primarily by “alleged obligations related to business transactions and related litigation, and liquidity issues.”

Mr. Nussbaum said the Chapter 11 filing will enable Mr. Bowe to restructure his debt and focus on his boxing comeback.

In bankruptcy documents, Mr. Bowe lists Commerce Funding as an unsecured creditor with a “disputed” debt to the company of $3 million. Other creditors include Fremont Investment & Loan for $705,000 and Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp. for more than $300,000.

An attorney for Commerce Funding yesterday declined to comment on Mr. Bowe’s filing, saying the Fairfax court records speak for themselves.

The financial ties between Mr. Bowe and Unlimited Security surfaced during an FBI inquiry into the security company’s bankruptcy case, according to records in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District.

Authorities were probing the whereabouts of about $2 million in securities at Unlimited before it tried to reorganize under bankruptcy protection in 2002, according to court records.

A court-appointed trustee overseeing Unlimited’s bankruptcy liquidation this year placed liens against Mr. Bowe’s assets to recover more than $70,000 he had received from the company for creditors.

At the center of the dispute between Mr. Bowe and Mr. Jackson are two deals two years apart.

In April 2000, court records show Mr. Bowe lent Unlimited Security about $2 million. Two years later, he signed a document that guaranteed upfront cash that the security company was getting from Commerce Funding Corp.

Attorneys for Mr. Bowe stated in bankruptcy filings over the weekend that Mr. Bowe has agreed to pay his bankruptcy attorneys a $25,000 retainer to represent him in defense of claims against his property, among other things.

Mr. Bowe was a two-time world heavyweight boxing champion in the early 1990s, but his career has been derailed by legal and health problems.

He spent 17 months in prison for abducting his first wife, Judy Bowe, and their five children in 1998. He was released from federal prison last year and has been attempting a comeback.

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