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Gwynn Files for Bankruptcy; Financial Woes Started in June

May 24, 1987|TOM FRIEND | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Tony Gwynn, the Padres' all-star right fielder, who has filed for bankruptcy, experienced financial woes as early as last June.

Gwynn and his wife, Alicia, petitioned in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Friday, listing his liabilities at $1,147,000 and his assets at $690,150.

Lew Muller, a San Diego-based attorney who became Gwynn's agent when Gwynn graduated from San Diego State University, purchased a Mercedes last year and used Gwynn as a co-signer.

Muller, according to sources, was late on payments, and the involved bank began calling Gwynn, asking for payments. Gwynn went to Muller's home and took the car, and he fired Muller not long after.

According to sources close to the player, Gwynn later had two more banks calling him about loans made to Muller. Again, Muller had used Gwynn as a co-signer. And, again, payments were not being made.

Sources said Gwynn--who felt a loyalty to Muller--at first tried to pay back some of the loans, but later had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

According to the Associated Press, court documents showed Gwynn owes $45,000 in back taxes to the federal government.

Gwynn would not comment on his financial status Saturday night.

"It hasn't affected me a bit (on the field)," he said. "I just want to play baseball. That's why I'm out here. I've got a job to do. And I do want to keep my job."

Gwynn leads the Padres with a .339 batting average, sixth-best in the National League.

Muller could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Sources said Gwynn--who will earn $700,000 this season--simply received poor financial advice.

"The car thing (with Muller) was more of a symptom than a disease," a source close to Gwynn said. "There's more to all of this."

Gwynn is now working under the financial advice of Bob Teaff, Jim Harper and John Boggs--all of whom are closely associated with Padre first baseman Steve Garvey. They have been working with Gwynn since Jan. 1.

Harper, based in Los Angeles, is serving as Gwynn's business manager; Boggs is Gwynn's marketing representative and Teaff is his attorney. Boggs and Teaff are based in San Diego.

Gwynn also received advice from Jim Biggins, a bankruptcy specialist, but the Gwynns made the final decision to file.

"From Tony's viewpoint, he's looking to focus on baseball and on the future," Teaff said Saturday. "He's looking to close this financial chapter and start a new one. My concern for Tony and Alicia is to assist them in completing the bankruptcy process."

Boggs--who has served as Gwynn's agent since last June, said Saturday: "So many people in this community love Tony Gwynn. And he's got direction now. He's got people working with him now."

Gwynn's Poway home is valued at $480,000, his largest single asset. Gwynn also earned $54,096 last year from Tony Gwynn Enterprises and another $2,000 from a 10% interest in the San Diego School of Baseball.

The bankruptcy petition also said Gwynn is a co-shareholder in Hillside Construction Inc., a firm involved in the importation and conversion of European automobiles.

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