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Jun 29, 2010

Former Road Racer Owen Weichel, Wife Held Liable For $2.4 Million In Banking Fraud Case

By Michael Gougis

A U.S. District Court judge has found former AMA and Canadian Superbike racer Owen Weichel and his wife liable for $2.4 million in a banking fraud case.

The default judgement, approved by U.S. District Court Judge John W. Darrah in Illinois, was filed in federal court late last year, and is part of ongoing litigation to "avoid and recover fraudulent transfers "¦ to the defendants," according to court documents.

According to the complaint, filed by the Fifth Third Bank of Michigan, an Illinois corporation known as Emily, Inc., "was engaging in a scheme to defraud lending institutions into lending massive amounts to Emily, and to subsequently transfer the borrowed funds to third parties."

Operating under the names Prosource Motorsports and RMI, Emily Inc. operated a motorcycle and recreational vehicle dealership on Route 6 in Morris, Illinois. Fifth Third provided a series of loans to Emily, Inc., and "provided a line of credit "¦ to enable Emily to purchase new and used motorcycles for sale, lease or other disposition, as well as new and used recreational vehicles for sale, lease or other disposition," the bank alleged in its complaint. At one point in 2008, the complaint alleges, Emily Inc. owed Fifth Third more than $30 million.

Between February 2007 and September 2008, Emily transferred $2,463,917.48 "to or for the benefit of" the Weichels via a series of checks and wire transfers ranging from $10,000 to $250,000, the complaint alleges. Among those transactions, $1.9 million was transferred after "the plaintiff's claims against Emily arose," according to the court documents.

"The transfers were part of a scheme Emily engaged in whereby Emily obtained financing from lenders through false representations and falsified documentation, and transferred the acquired funds to third parties," the complaint alleged. "Emily made the transfers with the actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud its creditors. Emily removed and concealed assets."

Owen Weichel, the complaint alleged, "directed communications to Emily in Illinois whereby Owen directed the transfer of funds at issue in this complaint," and "Owen received numerous fraudulent transfers "¦ including transfers directed to an account maintained by Owen and/or Georgia at a bank located in Illinois."

As of May 2010, litigation in the case surrounded the search for assets, court records show. Heather McMichael, a spokesperson for the law firm representing Fifth Third Bank, declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

The case docket shows that court summons were issued to Owen and Georgia Weichel, and were returned executed meaning they had been delivered on 9/28/2009 and 10/1/2009, respectively. On December 9, the judge signed the default judgment order.

Roadracingworld.com's attempts to reach the Weichels were unsuccessful. Phone calls from Roadracingworld.com to the Weichel's Southern California home were answered with a recording saying the answering machine message capacity was full. Voice messages left at Weichel's work were not returned. E-mails to his company e-mail addresses went unanswered or bounced back.