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Judge Blocks Bank's Move on Gwynn's Salary

February 02, 1988|CHRIS KRAUL | San Diego County Business Editor

" . . . And starting in right field for First International Bank . . . Tony Gwynn."

The fanciful introduction for the San Diego Padres star might sound outlandish but would have been partly accurate had a U.S. Bankruptcy judge not ruled Monday against the bank's request to take control of Gwynn's Padre contract.

The motion was part of the ongoing legal wrangling in the aftermath of Gwynn's May, 1987, Chapter 7 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego in which Gwynn said his liabilities of $1,147,000 outweighed his assets of $690,150.

In the motion, First International Bank, formerly known as People's Bank of Chula Vista, asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Louise Malugen to declare a lien on Gwynn's contract as security for a loan and back interest totaling $98,935 that the bank claims Gwynn owes it.

A favorable ruling would have entitled the bank to "foreclose" on Gwynn's contract, which runs through 1989, and garnish his earnings. Last year, Gwynn was paid about $700,000.

Gwynn has said in court documents that he co-signed certain loans taken out by his former agent and business manager Lewis C. Muller, including a $75,000 loan made to Muller by First International. When Muller defaulted on the loans, the banks came after Gwynn for payment.

Malugen ruled against the bank's motion saying that earnings of a marriage partner (Gwynn's wife, Alicia, is also named as a debtor in the Chapter 7 filing) constitute community property and that wages of one spouse cannot be assigned as security for a loan without the other spouse's consent.

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