by Ron Gregory
CHARLESTON — While both were employed by the Boone County Board of Education, Scotty Dale and Ressa Virginia Cook filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in federal court in 2009, according to court records. Scotty Cook is now a Democrat candidate for Assessor of Boone County.
Little, if any, publicity surrounded the bankruptcy filing in Southern District Court in Charleston. Information on the filing remains available on the Internet and at the federal courthouse in Charleston.
Documents on file with the court show the debts owed by the Cooks as well as income at the time. On March 9, 2010, the court issued a “final decree closing case” in what was listed as a Chapter Seven bankruptcy. A legal source said Chapter Seven bankruptcies do not require many debtors to be repaid even a portion of what they are owed.
However, the bankruptcy order says $132,102 of the total $198,192.15 debt was owed to secured parties. The couple listed assets of $222,422.
Those owed by the Cooks were listed as Andrew Dolan, the Boone County Bank, Capital Management Services, Farm Bureau Bank, Chase, Chase Automotive Finance, Chevron, CitiFinancial, Countrywide Mortgage, Discover, Exxon, Holzer Clinic South Charleston, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sam’s Club and Sears.
Charleston attorney Robin Godfrey represented the Cooks in their filing. Debts were listed as “primarily consumer debts.” The Cooks stated in their filing that did not think sufficient funds would remain to pay unsecured debts. They stated they had filed no bankruptcy petitions during the previous eight years.
The Cooks verified that within 180 days prior to the bankruptcy filing, they obtained credit counseling services.
On the form, they listed their house at Hewett together with 1.03 acres as having a “current value of debtors in property” as $130,000. Of that, they said $114,327 was secured.
They listed the current value of personal property at $92,422, which included Scotty Cook’s half-month salary at $937 and his wife’s at $999. Scotty Cook also listed employment with Century 21, in addition to the local school board. The couple said their average monthly income amounted to $4,558 while their expenses were $4,591, making their monthly net income a negative $33. They said that their “current monthly income” was $5,818. The total of unsecured, non-priority debt was listed at $76,065.15.
The Cooks paid Godfrey $1,500 for his services. A statement on the filing acknowledges that the purpose of a Chapter Seven bankruptcy is to “discharge … your existing debts.” An attorney familiar with the process said those who claim bankruptcy often decide to kept assets and continue to pay for them. It is unlikely, the lawyer said, that claims not secured would be paid.
A phone number or contact information for the Cooks was not available at press time.
Cook’s opponent in the May 10 primary is Deputy Assessor Susan Baisden.