Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother Anthony D. Rodham has been barred from accessing his bank account while a bankruptcy trustee demands that he repay more than $100,000 in loans from a carnival company whose founder was pardoned by President Clinton, filings in federal bankruptcy court in Alexandria show.

Mr. Rodham, one of Mrs. Clinton’s two brothers, received $107,000 in loans from United Shows of America Inc. after its owners obtained the presidential pardon over the objections of the Justice Department.

United Shows went bankrupt in 2002, and control of its finances was placed in the hands of court-appointed trustee Michael E. Collins, who has sought to garnish Mr. Rodham’s wages.

A consent order filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said Mr. Rodham is barred from taking money out of a bank account containing about $142,000, pending a hearing next month.

Last year, Mr. Collins won a default judgment against Mr. Rodham in a complaint filed in bankruptcy court in Nashville, Tenn. The trustee sought repayment of the loans, plus more than $40,000 in interest.

Mr. Rodham “received the benefit of the loans without making any repayment,” said a document filed last year in Nashville.

Mr. Rodham, known as Tony, declined to comment yesterday on the United Shows matter. The Vienna, Va., resident questioned the relevance of the case as a news story.

“I just happen to be the brother-in-law of a person who became president,” he said. “I’m not a public figure.”

His naming in the bankruptcy case is the latest distraction to Mrs. Clinton’s political aspirations caused by her two younger brothers. Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in November to her Senate seat from New York and is weighing a presidential bid in 2008.

In August 2001, Mr. Rodham became involved in a brawl at the Rodham family’s summer cottage in Pennsylvania with a man who said he caught Mr. Rodham having sex with the man’s girlfriend.

Mrs. Clinton’s other brother, Hugh E. Rodham Jr., intervened in that fight.

Hugh Rodham, 56, also came under scrutiny for his role in Mr. Clinton’s pardons. A lawyer, he returned about $400,000 he received for lobbying for a presidential pardon and prison commutation for two clients.

Both brothers were criticized in 1993 when they sought corporate contributions to pay for festivities surrounding their brother-in-law’s first inauguration.

United Shows’ owners — Edgar Gregory Jr. and his wife, Vonna Jo Gregory — won a pardon from Mr. Clinton in March 2000. They were convicted of bank fraud in 1982 for illegally giving loans to friends. Mr. Gregory died in 2004.

Legal filings show Mr. Rodham received $107,000 in loans from United Shows in 16 checks issued by the company from May 2000 to February 2002, about six months before United Shows filed for bankruptcy protection.

To collect the money, Mr. Collins last month filed a writ of garnishment in bankruptcy court in Alexandria against Mr. Rodham. He also filed a judgment lien against Mr. Rodham in D.C. Superior Court.

Todd J. Zywicki, a bankruptcy specialist and law professor at George Mason University, said the consent order isn’t unusual in cases in which a bankruptcy trustee is trying collect on a judgment.

“It’s standard debt collection to be able to freeze a bank account to protect the garnishment rights,” he said. “Basically, the bankruptcy can reach out and grab the assets wherever they are.”

Mr. Rodham did not respond to the complaint filed last year in Nashville, but papers filed Monday by his attorney in Alexandria say he plans to fight the judgment.

The filing raises questions about whether Mr. Rodham knew of the proceedings against him.

A summons in the Nashville case was sent to a D.C. address at which “Mr. Rodham had not resided for a considerable period of time,” said the filing by Rodham attorney Steven B. Ramsdell, who declined to comment yesterday.

Mr. Ramsdell’s motion asks U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert G. Mayer to quash the garnishment summons filed against his client.

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