York County: A billionaire embezzled $21 million of taxpayers’ money

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A federal judge is expected to rule Monday on how much voting power York County will have in the battle against the bankruptcy of the failed Carolina Panthers Rock Hill site.

York County lawyers claimed in a Delaware bankruptcy court hearing that it owed $81 million in lost taxes that a David Tepper company should have used for road improvements as well than the loss of future tax revenue after the project collapses. York County wants $81 million in voting rights in the bankruptcy confirmation scheduled for November.

But attorneys for GT Real Estate, the billionaire owner of the Carolina Panthers, Tepper, created to build the failed project, say York County is not entitled to such a large vote share in the bankruptcy.

The hearing was adjourned until Monday without a decision by Delaware Judge Karen Owens, who said in a court order late Friday that she plans to rule on York County’s ballot application in the city on Monday. November bankruptcy confirmation.

The more voting power a creditor has in a bankruptcy, the stronger their position to block it and receive compensation for lost assets and contributions. It remains unclear whether York County and Rock Hill taxpayers will recoup some or all of the money invested in the project.

York County invested $21 million and Rock Hill claims it is owed $20 million spent on the Panthers site.

Unjust enrichment?

York County attorneys also claimed in court on Friday the company set up by Tipper misused his $21 million for unjust enrichment.

York County sued Tipper Companies in an ongoing legal battle that is part of GT Real Estate’s bankruptcy. GT was created to develop and build the Panthers South Carolina site, but declared bankruptcy in June after construction halted in March.

York County says its $21 million investment in tax dollars could legally only be used for road improvements, but was being used by GT for other purposes.

“Ultimately, a billionaire misappropriated taxpayers’ money from the taxpayers’ expense,” York County attorney Derek Baker said in Delaware bankruptcy court on Friday.

Attorneys for GT Real Estate balked at York County’s abuse complaint in court Friday and have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Lawyers for Tepper GT Real Estate said in court documents York County and Rock Hill nothing is due to them after the collapse of the project.

Because there was no obligation to spend the money on the roads, there is no legal obligation to pay it back, GT Real Estate attorney Chris Shore said in court Friday.

“There are no strings attached to this money,” Shore told the court.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice and people . He is the author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the US Library of Congress.

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