Petition seeks to discipline attorney for former Kerkhoven mayor
WILLMAR — A petition filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court seeks disciplinary action against Attorney Greg Anderson of Willmar for his role in representing former Kerkhoven Mayor James Rothers in a chapter 7 bankruptcy and divorce proceedings.
The petition was made public this month. Anderson is now retired from his law practice.
The petition alleges Anderson helped Rothers hide assets and failed to disclose Rothers' ownership in numerous companies.
It includes an allegation that Rothers purchased $750,000 in gold coins in 2016 through the ABC Bin Company he owned. Anderson had signatory authority for the company's account and signed the check to Miles Franklin for the purchase, according to the petition. It charges Anderson also knew of $100,000 in gold coins Rothers purchased in 2014 through the company and had shipped to his girlfriend.
Anderson stated "none" on bankruptcy disclosure forms asking whether Rothers had any coin collections or collectibles, according to the allegations in the complaint.
Anderson has represented Rothers since 2003. Rothers filed his bankruptcy petition in 2015.
The petition charges that Anderson represented Rothers in his business dealings and knew of his affiliation with numerous companies which were not disclosed in the bankruptcy. In the bankruptcy, Rothers disclosed ownership in only one entity, Herman's Holdings, which he said had no value.
The complaint lists 18 companies Rothers had ownership interests in. He served in managerial roles with three of them, but did not disclose his ownership or managerial information to the bankruptcy court, according to the complaint.
The complaint also charges that Rothers transferred his ownership of a 2015 Polaris Slingshot, as well as five vehicles including pickup trucks and two Harley Davidson motorcycles, to ReMAR Construction. Rothers was its president and CEO, and his girlfriend held 1,000 shares in it.
ReMAR Construction were not disclosed in bankruptcy proceedings. The complaint alleges that Anderson attempted to open a bank account for the company in Belize and also assisted Rothers and his girlfriend in attempting to open an account for it with the Cayman National Bank Ltd.
The complaint also alleges that during divorce proceedings, Rothers acknowledged ownership in only two companies. In 2013, he purportedly sold his 100 percent interest in one company to himself as ABC Minnesota and Romaldillo Sasillas Guzman for $500,000. The complaint alleges that the proceedings went into Herman's Holdings bank account and that Rothers and his girlfriend spent the proceeds for personal expenses such as "eating, traveling (and) going places."
The petition alleges that Anderson "knowingly made false statements of fact, knowingly and dishonestly omitted material facts, and failed to take reasonable remedial measures when respondent knew Mr. Rothers made false statements of material facts to a tribunal." It also alleges that he "made false statement of material facts to the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility during this disciplinary matter."
The director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility bears the burden of proving the allegations in the petition "by a clear and convincing evidence standard, a standard higher than in civil litigation," according to information accompanying the petition. A judge or retired judge will be appointed to hear the petition as a referee.
Rothers was elected mayor in November 2016. He resigned in April 2017 amidst a controversy with the city about a concrete tower he erected on his property along U.S. Highway 12 on the west end of town and across from the home of his former wife. At that time, he was also involved in civil litigation that alleged he placed assets in fake companies and created an offshore corporation on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean.