News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Barry Flynn, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 6, 2004 - --Despite serious signs of trouble along the way, partners Monty D. Hundley and Stanley Tollman built a huge hotel empire in the 1980s and '90s, including properties in Orlando and Kissimmee.
Now, Tollman is a fugitive from justice and Hundley, 60, of Windermere, is a convicted felon who could face multiple sentences of 30 years each in federal prison.
After a long trial, a U.S. District Court in New York convicted Hundley and three former executives of Tollman-Hundley Hotels on Tuesday of a wide range of charges, including fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and lying to banks.
The charges stem from an elaborate charade in which Hundley and the other company officers defrauded a dozen banks and other lenders of more than $100 million, prosecutors said. The pair did it by pretending to be broke, while they were actually hiding assets to avoid paying off their loans, they said.
In the meantime, Hundley and Tollman maintained lavish homes in Windermere, Palm Beach, on Park Avenue in New York, in an expensive Connecticut suburb, and in London, prosecutors said.
More than that, the men conspired to con their lenders into selling the debt at a huge discount -- typically 10 percent to 15 percent of face value -- to what was supposed to be a group of European investors but which ultimately turned out to be Hundley and Tollman themselves using a secret front man, prosecutors said.
As far back as 1991, there were threats of foreclosures and accusations against the two men of "continuous siphoning and misuse of corporate assets" in a lawsuit brought by an associate in a Kissimmee oldies nightspot, Little Darlin's Rock 'n' Roll Palace.
Even so, the pair's company, Tollman-Hundley Hotels, was able to continue borrowing huge sums from banks, ultimately peaking with more than 100 heavily indebted hotels and motels across the country.
The company once owned Days Inn of America, parent of the Days Inn chain, and a hotel under that name on International Drive.
Also convicted Tuesday with Hundley were: lawyer Sanford Freedman, former general counsel of the Tollman-Hundley; James Cutler, former chief financial officer; and Howard Zukerman, one-time vice president of finance.
In addition to the fraud charges, Hundley and Cutler were convicted of income-tax violations, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and tax evasion. Hundley alone also was convicted of failure to file timely tax returns and of "subscribing to" (approving or signing) false tax returns.
All four are scheduled to be sentenced on June 2.
Bank of America, which operates one of Florida's biggest retail-banking networks, was among the lenders involved in the case through a predecessor company, the former Security Pacific. A Bank of America spokesman in Atlanta, Scott Scredon, did not respond to questions about the bank's exposure to the bad loans or the likelihood of repayment.
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