Years of litigation with more twists than a Carvel ice cream cone followed. Among the more bizarre: Pamela’s 2007 attempt to get a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale to have her uncle’s body exhumed to see if he’d been poisoned by an embezzler.
Finally, in 2010, a federal judge dismissed Pamela’s claims and barred her from filing any new lawsuits.
But matters did not end there.
In February 2011, Pamela filed her petition in Fort Lauderdale seeking the bankruptcy court’s protection as a Chapter 11 debtor. Individuals who file for Chapter 11 generally remain in control of their assets as a plan to reorganize their debt is worked out.
Carvel’s petition listed debts of $615,000. She claimed assets of $32.9 million in “potential litigation claims.” She also restated her earlier assertions that members of the foundation had stolen the money.
“There has never been a trial by jury in any proceeding since 1990 involving the theft,” she wrote.
That’s true. Says U.S. Trustee’s attorney Brett Marks of Fort Lauderdale, “There never was a time when a judge said to her, ‘You don’t have a case.’ It was you haven’t done it right. I don’t know if anybody will ever know if she’s right.”
Soon after seeking the court’s protection as she reorganized her debts, Carvel began pushing to obtain the court’s permission to issue subpoenas that would allow her to go after the foundation’s records.
Osborne and others familiar with the case said Pamela Carvel was hoping to use the bankruptcy to get around the prohibition against further litigation in the estate fight.
But Carvel quickly ran afoul of the court, and lost control of the case after refusing to insure her Harbor Beach home as bankruptcy rules required. She tried to withdraw her petition and have the case dismissed. Instead, Judge Olson converted the case to Chapter 7 liquidation and named a trustee.
“In ruling against dismissal, I recall him saying that bankruptcy is like the roach motel, you can go in, but can’t get out,” said Marks, Trustee Osborne’s Fort Lauderdale attorney.
“She’s been ignoring the proceedings ever since,” said Osborne.
Creditors filed about $2.9 million in claims. That included the foundation’s claim of $432,000 to cover a judgment it had obtained for legal fees, plus another $2.2 million in non-adjudicated claims for malicious prosecution.
Legal fees by others, including Marks, account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional claims.
Osborne believes Carvel has more assets squirreled away, but said that her former Fort Lauderdale home — sold for $1 million on May 29 — will likely be the last asset to be liquidated. Creditors will be paid 100 cents on the dollar, except for the foundation’s $2.2 million malicious prosecution claim.
“At the end of the day, they just want it over with,” Osborne said.
With a warrant out for her arrest, Pamela Carvel’s whereabouts are today unknown. Osborne said he suspects she’s probably living in New Jersey because her mother, who died last year, has real estate there.
“She got the wrong judge to play with,” Osborne said.
Broward Bulldog is a not-for-profit online only newspaper created to provide local reporting in the public interest. www.browardbulldog.org, 954-603-1351.