John Beck Still Missing As His Case Unfolds

John Nelson Beck has a new date with the United States Bankruptcy Court. Beck disappeared some 30 minutes before his last-scheduled appearance before Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee Lois Brady and his creditors (“Alameda Man Disappears,” Feb. 18). 

Beck was dropped off about 9 a.m. on Feb. 9 for a 9:30 a.m. appointment with Brady at 1300 Clay St. in Oakland. According to the bankruptcy court’s website, Beck and his attorneys from the law offices of Balter & Minder — Roya Shakoori, Robert G. Harris and Michael W. Malter — were also scheduled to meet with Brady. 

Beck failed to show up and was variously spotted  at the 12th Street BART station in Oakland, at Land’s End in San Francisco and on Bodega Avenue in Sebastopol. Records show that the bankruptcy court “continued” the Feb. 9 meeting and rescheduled Beck’s sit-down with Brady and his creditors for 11 a.m., Tuesday, March 8. The court mailed a certified letter to Beck informing him of the new date on Feb. 13, court records show. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against Beck on July 1, 2009, claiming that he was selling unwary clients spurious get-rich-quick real-estate programs. 

On August 23, 2012, the federal court agreed and saddled Beck with a $113 million judgement. In addition to handing down the judgement, the court banned Beck from broadcasting the infomercials he was using to lure the unsuspecting to send him their money.

One month later, in September 2012, Beck filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. When he filed, Beck listed some $500 million in debt with assets totaling between $1 million and $10 million.

Law360’s reporter Beth Winegarner reported that in November 2012, bankruptcy trustee Barbara Matthews urged a California bankruptcy court to convert Beck’s Chapter 11 case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

Winegarner reported Matthews’ concern that Beck was using Chapter 11 incorrectly as a shelter against paying the FTC. Chapter 11 could allow Beck to reorganize and remain in business, while Chapter 7 would require him to liquidate his assets and pay his creditors.

“At least initially … [Beck] asked to ‘park’ in Chapter 11 for an indeterminate period of time,” Matthews wrote. Beck’s attorneys told the court that their client wanted the Chapter 11 shield pending the appeal of the FTC’s judgment.

Matthews told the court, however, that “Bankruptcy serves no purpose in this situation other than to delay.” Winegarner wrote that Matthews recommended that the court dismiss Beck’s Chapter 11 case or convert it to one under Chapter 7. 

Court papers show that just before he filed for Chapter 11 protection Beck sold real estate — vacant land —and pocketed $660,000. In her argument to force Beck into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Matthews told the court that Beck owned his two homes in Alameda, his residence on Regent Street and a rental property on Bay Farm’s Oleander Street. 

Before filing bankruptcy, Beck liquidated a number of vacant lots he owned, reaping $660,000. Beck owned 41 more vacant lots that are “worth little or nothing,” according to Matthews’ motion. Winegarner wrote that just before filing for Chapter 11, Beck “sold a property to his daughter for $300,000, paid $10,000 on his mortgage, paid $30,000 to his attorneys and added to his $1.3 million pension before filing for Chapter 11.”

Beck filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Nov. 30, 2015. The courts appointed Richard K. Diamond trustee for the case. And it appears that, despite Beck’s absence at the Feb. 9 meeting, motions for his Chapter 7 bankruptcy are moving forward. 

On Feb. 24 and 25 Diamond filed paperwork concerning Beck’s requirement to take a financial-management course. Records also show that bankruptcy attorney Carl Gustafson is scheduled to appear with Beck at the March 8 meeting.