Vontran converts bankruptcy to Chapter 7 process
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 10:51

The construction of houses on Yorkway will not be impacted by John Vontran’s conversion to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
    photo by Sara Blumberg

Says construction of Yorkway homes will be unaffected by ongoing personal financial issues

by Sara Blumberg

A year after filing for  Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Yorkway and Seagram’s property owner John Vontran agreed to a court recommendation to convert his filing to Chapter 7 and liquidate his assets.
    The recommendation was finalized  in October, after a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee was brought in to help mediate the proceedings.
    According to court documents, the trustee recommended the conversion after running into problems with Vontran’s statements and business dealings during Chapter 11 proceedings.
    In the trustee’s motion, Vontran, with his wife Kelly, are described as  owners  who “grossly mismanaged” their personal businesses.
    The trustee also accused Vontran of providing inaccurate information during meetings with his creditors in reference to three ventures including  Yorkway Properties LLC, JKBK Inc. and Amusement Vending, Inc.
    Under U.S. bankruptcy code, when a person files for Chapter 7, all non-exempt property is liquidated to pay off creditors.
    In addition, a bankruptcy trustee is appointed to supervise the proceedings.
    Vontran owns two major properties in Dundalk.
    In 2008, Vontran bought the Yorkway property for $1.6 million after the Baltimore County Council approved the sale.
    The county originally paid $21 million for Yorkway.
    In a phone interview on Monday, Vontran said that his personal bankruptcy will have no effect on the development of the Yorkway property.
    “As owner, my function was to make sure things like paving are taken care of.  From my end, things are about 99 percent complete,” he said.
    Currently, construction is underway for a 66-house development being built by prominent developer Ryan Homes.
    Ryan Homes representatives said construction will not stop and that almost half of the homes have been bought.
    Ryan also has the rights to build the homes, Vontran said.
    “I’ve kept my promise to the community; the houses are selling,” he said.
    It’s important to note that Yorkway Properties LLC has no relation to Yorkway LLC,  the limited-liability corporation that owns the Yorkway Development.
    In the bankruptcy documents, Yorkway Properties LLC was described as a business with no real purpose and a business that generated no income.
    Vontran also would not disclose the owners of the business. He later conceded and testified that members of his family, including his mother, brother, and brother in-law were owners of the company.
    “Yorkway Properties is owned by ... I’m not sure ... I’d have to look,” Vontran said in the motion.
    The motion also stated that Vontran only had a 25 percent share in Yorkway Properties LLC.
    Yorkway Properties LLC also owned a portion of assets in Vontran’s other business, JKBK Inc.
    Vontran, who owned 70 percent of the JKBK company, was collecting a salary from the business, according to court documents.
    Vontran testified that the reason he and his wife decided to file for bankruptcy was because they were involved in a number of failing businesses.
    The trustee described  Vontran as someone who cannot keep his facts straight.
    In response, Vontran says that anyone can have an opinion, but at the end of the day he is keeping his promise to Dundalk.
    “My company is trying to improve the neighborhoods,” he said.
    Vontran is also facing legal action from former Yorkway owner Frank Scarfield.
    Scarfield filed suit against Vontran earlier this year, claiming he falsified information having to do with the purchase of Yorkway.
    Scarfield is seeking a 55 percent interest in the development. The court case is scheduled for next June.
    7th District Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. was a big promoter of the selling of the Yorkway property.
    At a recent county council meeting, he said he was unaware of Vontran’s personal financial matters.
    He said from what he knows, there will be no impact on the Yorkway development.
    “What I see are homes sprouting up from what used to be 3,500 police calls a year,” he said referring to the crime-burdened apartment complex that used to exist on the property.
    In the wake of the conversion, another meeting between Vontran and his creditors is scheduled for Dec. 22.