san antonio

Bankruptcy judge denies Chris Pettit’s bid to get out of jail

SAN ANTONIO — Christopher “Chris” Pettit will remain in jail after a bankruptcy court judge ruled Wednesday that the disgraced former lawyer had not done enough to clear himself of a contempt of court charge.

Telling Pettit he holds the keys to his jail cell, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargotta set 17 conditions the ex-attorney must satisfy to be released. First on the list is that Pettit turn over a business laptop to the trustee administering the bankruptcy estate. Pettit has given conflicting accounts regarding its whereabouts.

“It would really move things along if Mr. Pettit would come clean about what happened with regard to the laptop, good or bad, so we could move on in this case,” Gargotta said. The laptop purportedly contains information the trustee wants regarding Pettit’s clients and their funds.

“I’m not suggesting he say this, but if Mr. Pettit were to say, ‘I destroyed it’ … then if that really was the truth, then we would know … that as a result (the trustee and creditors are) not going to get that information,” the judge added. “Really, what’s at issue here is just saying where it is.”

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One of Chris Pettit’s largest

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Why bankruptcy judge declined to hold Chris Pettit in contempt

Christopher “Chris” Pettit, the ex-San Antonio attorney accused of absconding with millions of dollars of clients’ money, has again avoided being held in contempt of court in his bankruptcy case — for now.

At an emergency hearing Thursday, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargotta declined to grant the Chapter 11 trustee’s request to hold Pettit in contempt for violating a court order prohibiting him from transferring or disposing of any of his personal property.

But the judge ordered Pettit — who has been living in an $8 million mansion at Disney World while working as a $15.75-an-hour cook on the resort’s grounds — to appear in the San Antonio court next week to show why he shouldn’t be sanctioned for violating the court’s order.

“Mr. Pettit, I know you work. I know you’re in Florida. Can’t do much about that,” Gargotta told Pettit, who appeared by video. “You need to be here on Sept. 8.”

Trustee Eric Terry requested the emergency hearing after one of his lawyers, Patrick Huffstickler, got a phone call from Rob Vogt of Vogt Auction Galleries.

Vogt told him that someone had come by the business to inquire about selling personal property at a house on

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Chris Pettit spent $250K in the 40 days after filing bankruptcy

Ex-San Antonio attorney Christopher “Chris” Pettit, accused of stealing his clients’ money, spent more than $250,000 in the 40 days after he filed for bankruptcy.

The spending is detailed in court exhibits that are part of the Chapter 11 trustee’s motion seeking an order directing Pettit to show why he should not be held in contempt for withdrawing $125,000 from his retirement account after filing for bankruptcy June 1.

Pettit, 55, transferred the retirement money into checking and savings accounts at Martha’s Vineyard Bank in Massachusetts. The court exhibits show he spent just shy of $252,000 from those accounts from June 2 through July 11.

“It may be consistent with his pre-bankruptcy lifestyle,” said San Antonio attorney Martin Seidler, who represents creditors in the case.

Pettit listed $27.8 million in assets and $115.2 million in debts in his personal bankruptcy, one of the largest ever filed in San Antonio. His law firm also filed.

The trustee — the court-appointed private attorney overseeing the assets — has said the retirement money should not be touched until the court rules it’s exempt from the bankruptcy estate.

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