After losing his wife to a long, costly battle with cancer, a World War II veteran from Plains, Montana is now losing his home. And now, his battle with the bankruptcy court is generating national attention, attention which has forced the trustee in the case to seek a protective order from the court following threats to her life and family. Meanwhile, the Clerk for the Bankruptcy Court says claims that the veteran will be forced to exhume his wife's remains are "completely false."
The case deals with Warren (Renn) Bodeker. I first heard of his plight from a caller to our radio talk show last week. Later, Montana's CBS TV stations featured a story on their website which added this:
"Because of the medical bills...they really started toward the end...it wasn't any great amount that we were in debt for, [but] we filed bankruptcy and it just blew up from there," Bodeker explained.
As a decorated World War II veteran, Bodeker earned two Bronze Stars while making three combat jumps in the Pacific. His fellow veterans have rallied together to help him through these trying times.
Today, The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell is also covering the story.
“They” is the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana, where in a June 12 hearing, Judge Ralph B. Kirscher denied Bodeker’s bankruptcy filing and stated he had to either vacate, sell, or expunge his property in a matter of days.
What makes the matter even worse is that Bodeker was unable to attend the hearing due to his stay in the VA hospital in Helena.
On Monday, the court scheduled bankruptcy trustee Christy Brandon, a Bigfork attorney, to come out to Bodeker’s property to oversee the changing of the locks. The Ryans, a neighboring family in Plains, arrived on the property to help Bodeker remove valuables and sort through what could be sold at auction.
Leading the charge in defense of Bodeker has been a group called the "Oathkeepers," which has helped garner awareness of Bodeker's plight through libertarian-leaning websites such as Oathkeepers.com, Liberty.org, and InfoWars.com.
Since the story was posted on the above-mentioned websites, the bankruptcy court trustee assigned to the Bodeker case says she has been receiving death threats at her office in Bigfork. Those threats, and what she says are false statements pertaining to Mr. Bodeker's case led Christy Brandon to file a motion for protective order with the court.
You can click here to read the motion in full, here's part of what Brandon had to say:
This is a difficult case where on one hand, Mr. Bodeker is a war veteran, 89-years old, recently widowed and suffering from medical issues for which Trustee has great compassion, honor and respect; on the other hand, Mr. Bodeker made false oaths in his bankruptcy filings and at his §341creditor meetings, concealed assets, been uncooperative and obstructive in executing the Stipulation he entered with the United States Trustee’s Office and now seeks public retribution and retaliation against Trustee for performing her mandated duties.
Based on the foregoing, Trustee requests the Court to enter a protective order requiring Debtor to post corrective statements at the websites oathkeepers.org, liberty.com, www.infowars.com and at any other websites that pick up the video and/or article published by Mr. Bodeker and Mr. Rhodes acknowledging that Trustee has at no time sought to exhume Lorna Bodeker’s remains and acknowledging that Debtor agreed in his Stipulation with the United States Trustee’s Office that the property was to be immediately sold, that the proposed buyer is a person that Debtor found and brought to the Trustee and that the purchase price is greater than the value Debtor assigned in his schedules and that if Debtor fails to post the required corrective statements within 24 hours of this Court’s order that he be sanctioned $50,000 payable to the Trustee.
Bernard McCarthy, the Clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana based in Butte, says the trustee for the court has since filed a motion to vacate the buy/sell agreement. McCarthy says Christy decided to vacate the buy/sell agreement due to threats she has been receiving following recent publicity of the case.
As to statements that bankruptcy court proceedings will force Bodecker to exhume his wife’s remains from his property, McCarthy says the claims are completely false.
McCarthy said that he is not speaking on behalf of the bankruptcy court, but he personally feels the story, and the public’s reaction to the story, is getting out of hand.
“Here’s what I am upset about," said McCarthy. "This thing has gotten blown way out of proportion because no one has bothered to contact us, and now other people are relying on other people to build those stories up. It’s a case that is in process. Mr. Bodeker had competent legal counsel and he made some decisions that were not in his best interest and that got him into a lot of hot water. It is my personal opinion that Mr. Bodecker is being exploited by the people who publish these websites. I think there is a real concern with Mr. Bodecker’s health and welfare.”
So, what is next for Mr. Bodeker? At this point the court is waiting to determine whether the proposed purchase of the property will go through. The motion to vacate the buy/sell agreement on Bodeker’s property is under a 14 day objection period. At the end of that period, the judge can either decide to keep the buy/sell agreement in place, or vacate the buy/sell agreement. Either way, McCarthy says Bodeker’s home and property will still be a part of the bankruptcy estate, which means it will be available to be sold off to pay Mr Bodecker’s creditors.
As to Bodeker being hospitalized and unable to attend the hearing, McCarthy added that the court could only go off of the information they legally had on hand at the time. “We were told by a friend of his that he was in a VA hospital, but we had no information that he was or was not in the hospital," said McCarthy. "We had no signature from Mr. Bodeker before the hearing took place.”