NASHUA - It's no wonder that Richard Berube doesn't always show up in court; he has a lousy time there.
Berube's real estate and development business is in ruins, his bankruptcy cases have been thrown out, and creditors are nipping at his heels, court records show.
The Telegraph reported extensively on Berube's past and present legal and financial problems in an article last May. Londonderry police had arrested him May 6 after a six-hour standoff at his home at 31 Windsor Boulevard, after police went to arrest him on a warrant for failing to show up for a child-support hearing.
More recently, Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge William Groff gave Berube 10 days to pay $5,000 in overdue child support or be arrested again.
"You're going to be picked up and sent to jail and stay there until you pay it," Groff said.
Berube appeared before Groff on Oct. 14 for a hearing on the roughly $18,000 he owes his ex-wife. Berube complained that he hasn't been able to work or collect any income in nearly a year. Groff suggested that he start looking for work, and consider filing a motion to reduce his $1,000 monthly court-ordered support.
Berube, 43, told Groff he expects to collect $300,000 from a pending complaint with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation against Butler Bank, which backed his latest developments in Litchfield, but he had no documents to support that claim.
Once the hearing was done, court officers approached Berube, handcuffed him and arrested him on a warrant from another pending lawsuit. Judge Diane Nicolisi had issued an arrest warrant after Berube failed to show up for a Sept. 11 hearing on payments on a debt that he owes Nashua Wallpaper.
Berube was promptly released after putting up the $2,000 cash bail that Nicolosi had required to ensure his appearance in the future.
Berube had remained jailed for several weeks after his arrest in May. He had filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy shortly before his arrest, but the case was later dismissed on June 20, after Berube failed to file required financial documents, court records show. Berube then filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, which was dismissed because bankruptcy rules don't allow a person to file for bankruptcy so soon after a previous bankruptcy petition has been dismissed, court records show.
In addition to the lawsuits and judgments against him and his companies, Berube's last two developments, two retirement-community condominium projects in Litchfield, Heritage Park and Blossom Court, were left unfinished, leaving buyers without promised amenities such as street lights and landscaping.
The attorney general's consumer protection division took up the case of Blossom Court, and that condominium association has been placed into receivership, though a receiver has yet to be appointed, Assistant Attorney General David Rienzo said Thursday. The case remains pending in court, and the state is seeking to have Butler Bank deemed responsible for completing the common areas of the development, he said.
"The question is whether or not by foreclosing on the property and then holding certain units, whether the bank has succeeded Mr. Berube," Rienzo said. "It's not our position that the bank is obligated to finish the project. It's our position that the bank has an obligation to finish the common elements, and has the right to finish the project, but is not obligated to do so."
Residents at Heritage Park banded together, hired a lawyer and wrested control of the condo association from Berube, treasurer Barbara Wade said. That allowed them to buy insurance to cover the property and contract with a snowplow company, but the owners fear they could be left on the hook for finishing the road, irrigation system and other work for which they'd already paid, but was never finished, Wade said.
"We're just trying to stay above board and maintain the place as best we can. It's certainly not the way it was supposed to be," Wade said. "All in all, we're doing the best we can."
Lion Development Corp., a company owned by some officials at Butler Bank, bought the partially completed buildings at auction, and residents have been negotiating with that company in hope of arranging to finish the development, Wade said.
Unlike Blossom Court, the attorney general's office has declined to get involved in Heritage Park, despite residents' requests.
"We were hopeful that they would be of more help but they have not. They're not helping us," Wade said.
This article appears in the October 10 2008 issue of New Hampshire Business Review