Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 5, 2013

Schwartz hearing lifted due to federal filing

By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — A federal filing Thursday evening put a hold on a local hearing in Howard Superior Court 4 to decide what to do with Richard Schwartz’s assets; mainly, his life insurance.

The Friday hearing in Howard Superior Court 4 was lifted after New York Life filed a federal interpleader motion late Thursday in U.S District Court in Indianapolis.

An interpleader action is filed when the plaintiff holds property on behalf of another, but does not know to whom the property should be transferred. It is often used to resolve insurance disputes.

State officials filed an emergency petition Wednesday to freeze some of Schwartz’s assets alleging Schwartz was running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme.

More than 20 attorneys representing more than a dozen potentially competing interests and victims arrived in Howard Superior Court 4 Friday morning only to have the case put on hold.

Superior Court 4 Judge George Hopkins decided it was in the best interest to lift the hearing until they figure out what the federal court will do.

Schwartz’s life insurance could be worth $13 million.

Schwartz was a life insurance salesman for New York Life until he was terminated last year.

One of the parties represented Friday was Schwartz’s wife, Brielle Schwartz, who filed for divorce one day after she entered a $1.45 million default judgment against her husband in U.S. Southern District Court decision in Indianapolis.

While the federal court will decide on how and when to pay out his life insurance, state and federal officials are still trying to determine how many victims are out there.

Schwartz, ran RAS Associates, 1932 S. Dixon Road, which billed itself as an investment firm.

He committed suicide Aug. 21 at a Simpsonville, Ky., mansion. The million-dollar estate, purportedly Schwartz’s home, was owned by a company called Field of Dreams LLC.

Valerie Kroeger, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Secretary of State’s office, said state officials are “confident” Schwartz was running a Ponzi scheme.

Kroeger said state officials have already identified between $5 million and $10 million in possible victims’ losses in the case. She said those losses are expected to mount in the coming weeks.

According to Wednesday’s court filing, Schwartz broke state law by failing to disclose he was spending investors’ money on himself, rather than placing investments into profit-generating enterprises.

“He lived a lavish lifestyle. There’s no telling who he owes,” Kroeger said.

Kroeger said the secretary of state’s securities division is asking victims to contact the office by calling 317-232-6681 or the state’s securities fraud hotline at 800-223-8791.