Timing of lawsuit favorable to residents as Va. man currently in bankruptcy

By Lawrence Smith | May 17, 2007

CHARLESTON – Should the eight West Virginia residents who have a suit against an alleged private investigator prevail in court, they may stand a chance to collect any judgment they receive in spite of his pending bankruptcy.

The residents – Patricia A. Lemley, Robert Hart, Elizabeth Crawford, Gil Vanderkraats, Tom Mullins, Sheryl Hobbs, Sue Hollands and Paul and Gloria Ransom – claim they paid Jon L. Gigliotti of Lyndhurst, Virginia a "retainer" of $2,678 to conduct an investigation into their allegations of corruption in the West Virginia judicial system.

According to their account, Gigliotti was a licensed private investigator who promised he could get the American Center for Law and Justice, a Virginia Beach-based public interest law firm, to file a class action suit on their behalf, and the Christian Broadcasting Network air a segment on their allegations. Despite taking their money, Gigliotti never delivered on his promises.

The residents later discovered that Gigliotti's license to practice private investigations expired in January 1997, two months before he accepted their retainer, and was fired from CBN in September 1996.

He provided business cards to the group showing he was a bodyguard for CBN founder, president and CEO Pat Robertson.

The group filed a suit in Monongalia County Magistrate Court on March 16, a day before the 10-year statute of limitations expired on a small claim. Unbeknownst to the group was the fact that Gigliotti filed for bankruptcy a month before their suit.

1 dog and 18 cats listed among personal assets

According to the petition filed February 6 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the western district of Virginia in Harrisonburg, Gigliotti and his wife, Tanya, filed for protection under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. Typically, a Chapter 7 filing is for individuals seeking discharge of all their debts.

Also, all collection efforts and pending lawsuits during a bankruptcy filing are stayed.

In their petition, the Gigliotti's list $240,053 in assets and $ 268,434 in liabilities. Also, they list their combined income as $2,521 a month with monthly expenses as $3,065.
The Gigliotti's biggest asset, records show is their home in Lyndhurst. They claim the value on the house at $225,000.
It is from their home that Gigliotti lists his occupation.

According to court records, he is owner/manager of Restoration Ministries.

Records further show that about $600 of his $1,500 monthly income is derived from renting a portion of his home for the ministry. He started this ministry in April 1996.

The Gigliotti's other assets include $5,000 in household furniture such as dinette sets, a washer and dryer, and bedroom suit, a $4,000 interest in their 2006 tax return, a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder and Pontiac Transport valued at $2,000 and $3,000, respectively. Also, the Gigliotti's list among their personal assets as one dog, and 18 cats valued at a cumulative $1.

In their petition, they listed all their property as exempt except their home and the 1997 Pontiac. Records show they listed the claimed exemption as $2 and $485, respectively.

The creditors who loaned them the money to purchase the home and Pontiac – Countrywide Home of Van Nays, California and DuPont Community Credit Union of Waynesboro, Virginia – are the only two with secured claims. Those claims, records show, are $228,334 minus an unsecured $3,334 for the February 2006 refinance of the home, and $2,515 for the 2005 purchase of the Pontiac.

According to their petition, the Gigliotti's list 16 creditors with unsecured nonprority claims totaling $37,585. Topping the list, records show, are GE Money Bank of Orlando, Florida for a 2002 home improvement credit for $14,800, Captial One of Charlotte, North Carolina for credit cards in 2005 and 2003 for $9,000 and $3,600, respectively and Direct Merchants Bank of Baltimore, Maryland for a 2004 credit card for $3,600.

The Gigliotti's also list a pending civil suit against them by Equity One in Augusta County General District Court for $2,917.

As a condition of the Gigliotti's bankruptcy filing was agreeing to take a course in financial management. Records show they received a counseling session via telephone on January 30 from ClearPoint Financial Solutions.

However, records show the Gigliotti's haven't completed the course in financial management. On May 15, John W. L Craig Jr., the bankruptcy court's clerk, filed a notice that their case would be closed without a discharge in 30 days of the filing unless the Gigliotti's could provide proof the completed the course.

Deny filing bankruptcy in 1996

Records show this is not the first time the Gigliotti's declared bankruptcy. They previously filed a Chapter 7 petition on November 27, 1996.

No other detailed information is posted on bankruptcy court's Web site about their 1996 filing except they were discharged on March 11, 1997 and the case was terminated two days later. The case's conclusion came about the time the West Virginia residents paid him to conduct his investigation.

When questioned about his bankruptcy filing, Gigliotti, 60, was caught off-guard. Despite claiming he was doing well financially as manager of the ministry and working part-time as a used car salesman, Gigliotti said he had no comment on filing for bankruptcy.

U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the western district of Virginia (Harrisonburg Division) case nos. 07-50083 and 96-01527

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