PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The former owner of Newport Creamery transferred at least $340,000 of the company's money into three Florida businesses he controlled, according to evidence presented in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The details were revealed as an attorney tried to prove that former Creamery owner Robert Swain and his wife, Linda, moved cash out of the Creamery frequently, The Providence Journal reported.
Newport Creamery declared bankruptcy in June, and Andrew Richardson was appointed to be an independent trustee in the case.
Richardson sued Linda Swain, alleging she took $900,000 from the Creamery for personal use with no intention of paying it back.
Richardson also asked U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Arthur Votolato to issue a preliminary injunction against Linda Swain. A hearing on that request continued last week.
When the Swains bought the ice cream chain in 1999, Newport Creamery's financial records show a $290,000 loan was made to Kapok Development Corp., a Florida land-development company controlled by Robert Swain, according to Alden Harrington, the lawyer representing Richardson.
That $290,000 was then loaned from Kapok Development to Tarpon Highlands Development Corp., another Florida business controlled by Swain.
"Kapok's borrowings were specifically targeted to pay for another development project," Swain said during testimony.
Although Linda Swain has not appeared in court for the hearings, Robert Swain was on the stand on Tuesday and Friday, The Journal reported.
The Creamery was eventually given partial ownership of Tarpon Highlands in return for the loans. But the restaurant chain has yet to see a return on that investment.
Tarpon Highlands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999.
In addition, $50,000 advanced to Robert Swain from the Creamery last May was used to pay off two of Swain's business colleagues in another Florida development project — Rutland Estates.
Swain testified that he put $50,000 back into the Creamery in June to help pay for the Creamery's health care benefits plan, which was in jeopardy when the company went bankrupt.