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Bohr grapples with bankruptcy, home foreclosure

Councilman and his business partner are in the middle of a lawsuit with their lending company while Bohr is fighting a lawsuit against Wells Fargo.

March 09, 2011|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

Huntington Beach City Councilman Keith Bohr appears to be mired in financial difficulties that include an attempted foreclosure on his house, a bankruptcy filed for a downtown-based company he co-owns, and a lawsuit by a lender asking him to pay millions.

Bohr owned half of Team Companies and served as its secretary, according to bankruptcy records filed in May.

Bohr's partner, Jeff Bergsma, served as president. Bergsma was the architect for the Bomburger restaurant, and Bohr was pushing for it to obtain an alcohol license.

According to the Chapter Seven bankruptcy filing, Team Companies' estimated liabilities were between $500,000 and $1 million. The councilman said the bankruptcy was finalized last year. There were no assets to distribute and the case was finalized in July, according to a United States Bankruptcy Court deputy clerk.

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The partners filed for bankruptcy after losing on a project they developed in San Pedro. Team Companies bought the historic LaSalle Hotel in San Pedro in 2005 from the city of Los Angeles's redevelopment agency for $1.7 million, Bohr said.

Bohr and Bergsma then borrowed about $8 million from Los Angeles-based Cathay Bank to build 26 condominiums and six commercial units, he said.

With the economy tumbling, the partners couldn't make their payments, which were scheduled to be made in full by November 2009, according to the lawsuit filed by Cathay in October.

Although 17 units were in escrow and ready to close last summer, Cathay foreclosed in September before the sale was finalized, Bohr wrote in an e-mail he sent Friday to the Independent and other community members.

Cathay then sold the development for $5.5 million, an amount less than what it had been offered for the property, Bohr wrote.

Cathay is suing Bohr and Bergsma for $3.1 million each plus attorney fees, according to the lawsuit.

"We're still arguing about the deficit, the amount the project ended up selling for and the amount of the loan," Bohr said during an interview.

Planning Commissioner Mark Bixby, who voted against Bomburger's request, considered Bohr's affiliation a conflict of interest.

"Given all of that, I don't understand how he can possibly vote without bias that involves his business partner," he said. "I don't see how you can possibly not be in favor of your business partner."

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