Judges rule in three high-profile cases
Friday, April 19, 2013 7:00 AM
A Decatur County judge approved a $3 million class-action settlement April 15 in lawsuits against Clive businessman Donald DeWaay and the broker-dealer he founded.
Barring a successful appeal, the ruling effectively ends a threat coming from multiple directions that DeWaay’s lawyers said at one time threatened the financial collapse of his businesses and could force him to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court.
Judge John Lloyd approved the settlement, made up of insurance payments and nearly $1 million of DeWaay’s personal funds, in combining two lawsuits that were brought by individuals who made private placement investments in deals promoted by DeWaay and his brokers.
“Certification of a class action in these cases is the only effective means of adjudicating a large number of claims ... and the only practical way that many small investors will have to assert a claim at all,” Lloyd said.
Gail Boliver, an attorney who represented investors opposed to the settlement agreement, said the ruling was likely to be appealed.
Businessman John Vratsinas, who recently cleared more than $3 million in unpaid taxes from his to-do list, has been ordered to pay another $1.5 million plus interest in a shareholders lawsuit that claimed he unilaterally transferred funds from a failing construction firm he founded to other companies in which he had a direct or indirect interest.
Polk County Judge Robert Hanson issued the order April 10. He also ordered that a receiver be appointed to oversee the liquidation of John Vratsinas Commercial Construction Inc. (JVC) and the distribution of its assets to shareholders and creditors. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, but the case was later dismissed.
Hanson wrote that cash transfers to another Vratsinas company, Iowa Construction Logistics Inc., and a limited liability company that he managed indicated that “Vratsinas had concluded that that JVC’s business was tanking and that he was simply draining the corporation of as much cash as possible.”
Iowa Construction Logistics was founded and 2001 and functioned as the employment arm of JVC and other construction companies.
John Kline will spend the next 2.5 years in federal prison because he and business partner Randal Walters shuffled development loans in an effort to salvage failing projects.
“I’m ashamed, I’m humbled, I wish to hell we weren’t here right now,” Kline told U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Gritzner just before he was sentenced on April 12.
Kline also must pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution to banks and will serve five years of probation after his release from a minimum security prison. Gritzner previously sentenced Walters to one year and a day. He was ordered to pay $500,000 to the banks.
The Kline story took a strange twist in February 2009 when his million-dollar Urbandale home burned to the ground. A few days later, Kline filed for protection from creditors in federal bankruptcy court. He did not testify at a creditors’ meeting because, his attorney said, he was under investigation for the house fire. An insurance company and a bank blocked Kline from receiving insurance money for the fire. However, in a settlement of a federal lawsuit, his wife, Michelle, was awarded an estimated $100,000. No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the fire.
In May 2012, Kline served 30 days in the Marion County Jail for failing to pay child support from a previous marriage.
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