|By Peter Shinkle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 8, 2005 - William S. Stallings, who helped revamp the Chase Park Plaza hotel in St. Louis and later was convicted in unrelated fraud cases, has filed for bankruptcy. He listed $5 million in assets and $35 million in liabilities.
Stallings, who owns the real estate firm W.S. Stallings Corp., said earlier this year that he was managing shopping centers and other commercial properties in north St. Louis County.
Yet, debts from the failed WS Hotel, which he opened in a historic building at 400 Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis, have taken their toll. In filing for bankruptcy Aug. 31, he listed a $13.3 million debt owed to Western United Life Assurance Co. for that hotel -- a debt he personally guaranteed -- as the largest claim he faces.
Western United foreclosed on the hotel last fall. Another creditor, GMAC, won a $615,000 judgment in April against Stallings and his companies for defaulting on a lease of furnishings for the hotel.
The GMAC loan also was the source of some of Stallings' woes with the criminal justice system. In March 2004, he pleaded guilty in federal court in St. Louis to one count of wire fraud, admitting he violated the terms of the loan by taking about $66,000 worth of exercise equipment from the hotel to his Ladue home. He was sentenced to two months in prison.
In an earlier case, Stallings pleaded guilty in 2000 to defrauding Southwest Bank in a real estate deal that caused the bank to take a loss of $435,301.
Stallings, 42, grew up in St. Louis County. He played professional soccer for the St. Louis Steamers in the 1980s and was an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms before becoming a developer.
In the mid-1990s, he teamed with a partner to redevelop the Chase Park Plaza, a hotel in the Central West End that had been closed for about a decade. After new investors backed the project, Stallings sold his interest.
In the bankruptcy filing, Stallings said he has as many as 200 creditors. Among them is the Internal Revenue Service, which claims it is owed $5.8 million in income tax and other obligations, the filing shows.
Stallings also reports owing lenders a total of $1.6 million on his home on Log Cabin Lane in Ladue, which he said has a market value of $900,000.
He and his attorney, Michael Becker, could not be reached for comment.
Stallings filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors under Chapter 7, which permits an individual to be discharged from his debts after certain assets have been liquidated. The bankruptcy court set a hearing for Oct. 4, so creditors can learn about the bankruptcy.
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