Brooks Properties owner sued over jet loan



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A financing company has sued "self-made" businessman Harold J. Brooks, founder of Brooks Properties in Salem, for more than $2 million over a loan to buy a private jet.Connecticut-based VFS Financing Inc. charges that Brooks personally guaranteed a $4.77 million loan to purchase a seven-passenger duel-engine jet in 2006, according to a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Concord.According to the lawsuit, the 10-year, interest-only loan agreement required that the loan-to-value ratio stay below 90 percent, and that Brooks was also required to keep about $1 million in liquid assets on hand.But in July, the suit charges, VFS' loan servicer GE Capital determined that -- based on the most recent appraised value -- the loan-to-value ratio did not meet the required threshold, and started sending demand emails, the lawsuit said. GE Capital later learned that Brooks had reduced his cash position from "supposedly" $9 million to $400,000, according to the suit.In an email presented as evidence, Brooks Properties asked for 40 days to hold off default, while Brooks' attorneys had a chance to review the loan agreement with Bank of America (VFS's predecessor in interest).But in the suit, VFS said, negotiations proved "fruitless and defendants canceled the most recent meeting claiming that Brooks was unavailable in Florida."The suit -- which also names Brooks Pride 2 LLC and Maine Aviation Aircraft Charter LLC -- is seeking a $2.25 million attachment on Brooks' real estate -- the amount he allegedly owes under the loan -- as well as to take possession of the aircraft.Brooks, who could not be reached for comment in time for NHBR's deadline, founded Brooks Properties in 1980 and built a business that has become one of the "largest commercial, industrial and development service providers in Southern NH and Northern Mass. with more than 1.5 million square feet of property along Interstate 93," according to the company's website.About a decade ago, Brooks built Brookstone Park in Derry, which includes a golf course and the Brookstone Grille and Events Center. At the entrance of the park is a statue Brooks commissioned of a man carving himself out of a block of stone, titled "Self Made Man."Brooks, who started out his career as "a plumber with $115 and a pickup truck," recently sponsored a competition, in partnership with LTD Company and Business NH Magazine, to honor other self-made people.Brooks is already in federal court for a different reason, as a plaintiff.He and several of his business entities filed suit at the end of August against the New York law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP and attorneys Steven Burr and William Shack individually, alleging negligence in advising about tax consequences in refinancing three loans that total about $44.7 million.A state Department of Revenue Administration audit in July proposed that Brooks owed $1.27 million in real estate transfer taxes due the refinancing, according to Brook's suit. Brooks said his company paid the firm $150,000 for legal advice. -- BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

 

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