BY JIM DOOLEY – Among the players in the University of Hawaii’s recent fundraising fiasco are: a recently bankrupted local entertainment promoter whose home is now in foreclosure; a Florida firm that only began business in February; and a commercial painting contractor with a history of bad debts, public records show.
The UH Athletics Department planned to raise funds for its programs by staging a concert by singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder but canceled the event and suspended two university officials after a $200,000 escrow deposit went missing and Wonder’s agents reportedly denied knowledge of the planned concert.
The UH retained the services of local promoter Robert Peyton to help arrange the concert.
Federal bankruptcy court records show that Peyton, head of Bob Peyton Entertainment Corp. and BPE Productions, Inc., filed personal bankruptcy here in 2009, listing $941,000 in debts and only one major asset, a Mokapu Boulevard home in Kailua valued at $800,000. Peyton bankruptcy
Peyton’s wife, who also listed herself as an entertainment promoter, was a party to the chapter seven bankruptcy, which resulted in surrender of assets and discharge of almost $1 million in debts, according to court files. The case was dismissed in early 2010.
At the time, Peyton said he was working for Altres, Inc., an employee leasing company, earning $11,000 per year since 2007. Peyton also said Altres claimed to be owed $54,400 by Peyton for a business loan guarantee made to BPE Productions.
Since the Peytons were discharged from bankruptcy, they have been fighting a mortgage foreclosure action against their home, now valued for tax purposes at $672,000, in state and federal courts here.
A court judgment dismissing claims that their mortgage lender violated federal truth-in-lending laws is now under appeal at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Their lawyer in that case, Gary Dubin, said he does not represent Peyton in issues relating to the fundraiser but told Hawaii Reporter that the FBI has asked Peyton “not to speak with the press until it’s interviewing and investigation have been completed.”
UH officials said earlier this month they had asked the FBI for its assistance in locating its missing money.
The FBI had no comment today.
The deposit funds were reportedly wired to an escrow account maintained by a Florida entertainment promotion firm called Epic Talent LLC. Peyton has said he also wired $50,000 to the same account.
A woman who answered Epic’s phone yesterday transferred a call about the Wonder concert to the firm’s voice message system. The firm did not respond to a subsequent emailed request for comment.
The company was incorporated in February and lists a Miami address as its office.
Officials of the firm were listed in Florida Department of State records as Sean G. Barriero and Sannise S. Crosby.
Their personal addresses are Miramar, Fla., building unit also listed as the business address of a company called Divine Painting by Gamal, headed by a Florida painting contractor named Gamal Crosby.
Sannise S. Crosby has served as an executive of two other firms headed by Gamal Crosby, Divine Painting, Inc., and Divine Painting Properties, Inc., according to Florida business records.
Legal filings in Miami-Dade County, Florida list pending federal tax liens of $84,867 against Sannise Crosby and $23,565 against Divine Painting. The lien against Sannise Crosby was filed last year and the Divine Painting lien was filed in 2010.
Last year, a Florida used car dealer filed repossession papers for a 2002 Ford Taurus driven by Sannise Crosby and financed by Gamal Crosby, according to Miami-Dade County records.
Efforts to contact the Crosbys were unsuccessful.
University of Hawaii spokeswoman Lynne Waters declined comment on all questions relating to the cancelled fundraiser “until the investigation of this issue is complete.”
In addition to requesting FBI assistance, the university also retained a private law firm, Cades Schutte, to conduct an internal probe of the fundraiser.
On July 11, UH Athletics Department director Jim Donovan and department official Rich Sheriff were placed on indefinite paid leaves of absence pending completion of the investigations.
That action came a day after Donovan announced that the Wonder concert, planned for August 18, had been cancelled and ticket purchases were being refunded.