Hide and seek

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Homburger says their group had a signed agreement with the bankruptcy trustee to invest $250,000 in the offshore search. "The trustee backed away from it," he says.

Homburger says he isn't certain why, but the lack of agreement between Advantage and the FDIC apparently played a role.

In addition to the sting-tape admissions and evidence in Reese's S&L cases that he has experience with offshore businesses, Napp's group has, in its James Bond-like way, come up with other evidence that it says suggests Reese might have money stashed abroad.

Napp says databases and credit reports on Reese list at least three aliases associated with his Social Security number, including that of Louis Blackwell. And, oddly, only two months after Reese left for prison, his wife took out an assumed name, Jane Fitzgerald, for herself in Dallas' "doing business as" records.

Reese says that he has never heard of the name Blackwell and that he has no idea why his wife took out an alias. Susan Reese did not return phone calls. Her husband said, "I don't think she will be talking with you."

Napp says a source in immigration in the Cayman Islands has provided her documents showing that a Louis Blackwell arrived in the Caymans for a 10-day-stay the very day after Louis Reese was released from federal custody in December 1995. Meanwhile, while Reese was in prison, a Jane Fitzgerald visited the Caymans in early 1995.

Reese calls the inferences "nonsense." "I've been [to the Caymans] once to scuba dive in the '70s or '80s. Susan's never been. I needed permission while I was on parole to travel out of the country. There were daily phone calls to check in. This is just bullshit."

Napp has another, more specific shred of evidence, however, to suggest Reese has done business with foreign banks. Among boxes of about 30,000 documents obtained from Dallas lawyer James Vetter, who is trustee of several Reese family funds, Napp found an overnight mailer receipt showing documents were sent from Vetter's office to the Anker Bank in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Dated December 1989 and found among Reese documents, the mailer says it contained correspondence and was tied to the account of "LGRIII," Reese's initials.

Asked about the mailer, Reese hesitated for a while and then said it was related to an account he opened in the '70s during his post-college wanderings.

"Right," says Homburger. "How many Swiss bank accounts did you have when you were in college?"

When the agreement to follow those vague leads and look for money abroad did not materialize last summer, Segner, the trustee, seemed ready to head for the exit. And Reese provided a powerful lure in a new reorganization plan. In the proposal, Reese's wife would come up with $900,000, out of which the trustee and his attorney would be paid $300,000 for their fees. Another $500,000 would pay Reese's criminal restitution; the remaining $100,000 would pay Reese's lawyers.

In a bankruptcy, Pronske and other lawyers explained, the trustee is paid out of the debtor's assets. If nothing is recovered, the trustee and his lawyers don't get paid. "It's not a back-room bribe, but it's a pretty nice offer," says Napp of Reese's plan, which she sees as benefiting only the trustee and Reese.

For so-called unsecured creditors such as Advantage and FDIC's old thrift debt, the plan proposes to pay them out of the sale proceeds for a piece of land in Lewisville that Reese says would net at least $2.5 million. Advantage's cut would be about $1.7 million.

Napp and Homburger say that is too little, and an empty promise anyway, because they have not seen proof that Reese actually owns the land. Reese says there are only tax liens to be settled and that the creditors will be paid.

"The only party that remains unsatisfied is Advantage," Reese says. "The entire federal system has run down leads and didn't find any of these vast holdings. The conclusion to me is clear. Advantage is so rapacious, they will not be satisfied with anything less than a pound of flesh."

The judge, who approved Reese's plan in May, is prepared to give Napp's group just what Reese wants to pay them. His ruling is subject to a rehearing, and Pronske has submitted papers saying the judge cannot impose a settlement without the approval of Reese's largest creditor, one that holds 70 percent of his debts.

Pronske, Napp, and Homburger say that if they lose that ruling, they will appeal.

On the Milan tape, Reese said he has from time to time bought back some of his old debts, paying "two cents on the dollar." "They take the money," he said, implying that he gives them no other choice. "They're not crazy. They take the money."

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Thomas Korosec
Contact: Thomas Korosec