Monday, February 10, 2014

Bankruptcy in America – Poverty Stricken Greg Owens Has Just $400.00 in Checking and $400.00 in Savings

And We Find a Great Example of One of Mitt Romney’s ‘Takers’

The New York Times has the sad and pathetic story of Mr. Greg Owens.

. . . on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Owens filed for personal bankruptcy.

According to his petition, he had $400 in his checking account and $400 in savings. He lives in a rental apartment at 151st Street and Broadway. He owns clothing he estimated was worth $900 and his only jewelry is a Concord watch, which he described as “broken.”

Oh dear, another poor and destitute, uneducated and unemployed worker in America.  Not so fast.

The silver-haired, distinguished-looking Mr. Owens would seem the embodiment of a successful Wall Street lawyer. A graduate of Denison University and Vanderbilt Law School, Mr. Owens moved to New York City and was named a partner at the then old-line law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, and after a merger, at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Today, Mr. Owens, 55, is a partner at an even more eminent global law firm, White & Case. A partnership there or any of the major firms collectively known as “Big Law” was long regarded as the brass ring of the profession, a virtual guarantee of lifelong prosperity and job security.

It turns out the poor man just cannot get by on an annual salary of $355,000 a year.  And of course he would rather stiff his creditors than touch his rather massive retirement account.

Mr. Owens has been well paid by most standards, but not compared with top partners at major firms, who make in the millions. (Mr. Pierce was guaranteed $8 million a year at Dewey & LeBoeuf.) When Mr. Owens first became a partner at Dewey, Ballantine, he made about $250,000, in line with other new partners. At Dewey & LeBoeuf, his income peaked at over $500,000 during the flush years before the financial crisis. In 2012, he made $351,000, and last year, while at White & Case, he made $356,500. He listed his current monthly income as $31,500, or $375,000 a year. And he has just over $1 million in retirement accounts that are protected from creditors in bankruptcy.

And his legal specialty, mergers and acquisition where presumably one must know at least a little about finance.  But apparently not.

It turns out that some of Mr. Owens’ problem is not entirely of his own making.

The bulk of his potential liabilities stem from claims related to the collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. Even stripping those away, his financial circumstances seem dire. Legal fees from a divorce depleted his savings and resulted in a settlement under which he pays his former wife a steep $10,517 a month in alimony and support for their 11-year-old son.

That’s right, some judge has decided that his wife and son are entitled to $10,500 a month in income in order to ‘live’.  And they probably think they are entitled to more, after all that’s probably a lot less than their friends have.  Yep Mitt Romney, the Owens’s family, the embodiment of a sense of entitlement in America.  Too bad you weren’t able to feature them in your speeches and commercials.

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