Ex-SA lawyer Chris Pettit called ‘one stop shop for fraud’

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Former San Antonio attorney Christopher “Chris” Pettit was a “one-stop shop for fraud,” an attorney representing the trustee overseeing Pettit’s bankruptcy case said Monday.

“Basically, this case involved trusts, it involved filing a tax, it involved probate, it involved personal injury,” attorney Patrick Huffstickler told U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargotta during a hearing. “He was a licensed financial adviser, so it involved investments. So there are a lot of documents.

Pettit, a longtime San Antonio attorney, filed for bankruptcy and gave up his Texas law license this month after allegations he stole millions from clients. A creditor’s attorney estimates that more than $50 million was embezzled.

The allegations sparked an FBI investigation, but no charges were filed.

Pettit did not attend Monday’s proceedings.

“I will say this for the record: at some point he will come to court,” the judge said. “So you can just tell him he will have to come to court at some point – live and in person.”

Eric Terry, the Chapter 11 administrator, is expected to meet with Pettit this week — possibly as early as Tuesday — to better understand estate and client records. Pettit listed $27.8 million in assets and $115.2 million in liabilities in his bankruptcy — among the largest ever filed in San Antonio. His law firm, which was shut down, also filed for bankruptcy but has yet to declare its assets and debts. The two cases were joined.

As trustee, Terry, a San Antonio attorney, will be tasked with locating assets to distribute to creditors.

Ex-lawyer Christopher “Chris” Pettit’s main law office was located at 11902 Rustic Lane in San Antonio.

“Bit strange”

He visited the office at 13111 Huebner Road where Pettit maintained his personal injury practice.

“Walking through that office building was a little weird,” Terry said in a previous hearing. “And it was tragic for the people who were robbed, quite frankly. There were overwhelming feelings many times walking through that office building.

In an email, Terry explained what he had seen.

“I said this because I saw real names of real people being raped and victimized in the midst of a lavish law firm,” he said. “I felt a tremendous sense of commitment to helping these people.”

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of client records, Terry said.

“They are certainly in disarray, in my opinion, and there is a definite lack of controls,” he said at the previous hearing. On Monday, however, Huffstickler said the folders “aren’t as bad” as he expected, but added “there’s no easy index” to help find files. Therefore, it will take time for the debtor and trustee to obtain information.

“I also highlight at this particular point in the event that the estate has very few cash assets,” Huffstickler said. “This is one of those cases that I refer to as I’m working on an emergency basis with no benefits.”

Yet there are many potential assets, mainly real estate. It includes a mansion at Disney World that has been listed for sale for $8.9 million and a residence at 555 Argyle Ave. at Alamo Heights overlooking Olmos Dam. It is valued by Pettit at $3.6 million.

Besides four offices in San Antonio, Pettit had smaller satellite offices in Laredo and Las Cruces, NM, for potential personal injury cases, Huffstickler said.

This prompted Gargotta to ask if Pettit was licensed as a lawyer in New Mexico. Huffstickler didn’t know it, but Pettit isn’t registered on the New Mexico State Bar website.

Less than two months before filing for bankruptcy, former San Antonio attorney Christopher

Less than two months before filing for bankruptcy, former San Antonio attorney Christopher “Chris” Pettit gave Sin Reposo LLC the option to purchase the mansion at 555 Argyle Ave. at Alamo Heights overlooking Olmos Dam. He appraised the property at $3.6 million.

Transfers of ownership

Terry also investigates the transfer of at least seven properties collectively worth millions of dollars. The properties were transferred by Pettit or entities he controlled to Sin Reposo LLC. It is a company controlled by Garrett Glass, a developer from San Antonio who is the chief financial officer of a Calgary-based oil and gas investment firm called EF EnergyFunders Inc. The company’s main office is in San Antonio .

Michael Colvard, Pettit’s bankruptcy attorney, said his client transferred the properties “to get money” to resolve a court judgment against him and his business.

Pettit did not list the transactions in his bankruptcy papers, but Colvard said the documents will be amended to include them at some point.

“We are cooperating with the trustee and we will get this information and make it available as soon as possible,” Colvard said of the real estate transactions.

Huffstickler told the judge that the trustee may soon file a request to hire a trial attorney to pursue cases potentially involving the transfer of assets that might otherwise belong to the bankruptcy estate.

Huffstickler said Terry wants to put in place a protocol for handling the return of client records, which include personal injury cases, wills, tax returns and trusts.

“We want people to get their records,” he said. “It’s a many-headed beast.”

The trustee also wants another protocol in place that would allow him to execute documents to remove Pettit or his business as trustee of various trusts and have new trustees installed, Huffstickler said.

Terry added: “I promise to do it quickly. When we say a few weeks, I mean it.

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