SBJ/Sept. 23-29, 2013/Finance

Bankruptcy filing lists 12 athletes as creditors

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, Brooklyn Nets guard Jason Terry and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek are among a dozen current or former athletes listed as creditors in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing this month of prominent sports financial adviser Billy Crafton.

Crafton and his company, Martin Kelly Capital Management, each filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego on Sept. 4. Crafton and his company each listed estimated liabilities of between $50 million and $100 million.

Crafton listed estimated assets of $100,000 to $500,000. Martin Kelly Capital Management listed estimated assets of zero to $50,000. Both bankruptcy petitions listed the estimated number of creditors at between one and 49 and both include the dozen current or former professional athletes.

Mitts, Feeley had sued Billy Crafton and his firm.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Eleven of those athletes, including Hamels, Terry, Celek, former NFL quarterback A.J. Feeley and his wife, soccer player Heather Mitts, had filed lawsuits, arbitrations or both against Crafton and his company, seeking damages for financial losses they claim to have suffered when Crafton was their financial adviser. Free agent NHL defenseman Mike Commodore, who was listed as a creditor and was a client of Crafton, is not believed to have filed any legal action against Crafton or his company.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing initially stays all court and other legal actions against the debtor. A party to the filing, however, can seek relief from the stay from the bankruptcy court.

One of the former athletes listed as a creditor, former NFL tight end Aaron Shea, who is now the Cleveland Browns’ director of player engagement, filed a motion in Crafton’s and Martin Kelly’s bankruptcy cases, seeking a court order that would allow Shea to proceed with an arbitration against Crafton and his company.

Crafton and Martin Kelly Capital Management were parties to an arbitration hearing that was set to begin two business days after both filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to the Shea’s motions in the bankruptcy filings. Neither Shea nor his attorneys returned phone calls for this story.

Andrew Smith, a Philadelphia attorney who represents five of the athletes suing Crafton and Martin Kelly Capital Management, said he intends to file a similar motion in the case.

“We fully intend to continue to pursue our claims against Mr. Crafton and his company,” Smith said. “We will be seeking relief from the automatic stay and intend to pursue all means of financial recovery, either through his bankruptcy, his insurance policies or any personal assets we are able to locate.”

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