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Some clients wonder if they'll get anything from Brad Goodrich

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 13, 2011
— The lawyer for a dentist who bought the historic Lovejoy house at a sheriff's auction said his client is among the residents who claim they were scammed by Janesville minister and businessman Brad Goodrich.

Former Whitewater dentist Robert Provorse bought the home at 220 St. Lawrence Ave. for $139,000 in May. The sale was confirmed Wednesday. Provorse lives and works now in Colorado.


Many former clients and partners accuse Goodrich of misusing their retirement and investment money by shifting it into other entities. Other contractors have sued him for nonpayment.


One Janesville police officer investigating Goodrich likened his finances to a "plate of spaghetti."


Goodrich operated the Ekklasia Foundation from the Lovejoy house until the bank foreclosed on the mortgage in 2009. The foundation's mission was to start churches.


Provorse was on the foundation board because his church invested with Goodrich, said Mark Olm, a Whitewater attorney representing Provorse.


Provorse was the only director who personally guaranteed the mortgage, Olm said. Wells Fargo came after Provorse when the bank foreclosed.


"We had to cut a deal with Wells Fargo to buy the loan," Olm said.


That's not the only money Provorse might lose because of his affiliation with Goodrich, Olm said.


Provorse and his wife "lost all kinds of money in retirement accounts they had invested with Goodrich," Olm said.


Olm said the lack of documentation that Goodrich provided his client about his accounts was "obscene woefully and illegally inadequate.


"We're trying to figure out what the scheme was," Olm said. "It certainly looks more and more like a Ponzi scheme."


Olm said his client knows he will take a financial hit in buying the mansion.


"You have to stop the bleeding somewhere," Olm said.


Provorse will make needed repairs on the Lovejoy house and put it up for sale.


Goodrich declined Thursday to respond to Olm's comments, saying he had talked to Provorse this week. Their relationship is not contentious, he said. In fact, the two are still "doing several things together," Goodrich said.


"Bob is a friend and brother in Christ, of whom I think highly," Goodrich wrote in an email.


"As for the reorganizations, they are going forward as expected. As for any foreclosures, decisions to eliminate nonperforming assets are inevitable in this economic climate."


Provorse, reached Thursday, said he does not blame Goodrich. His tone was decidedly different than that of his attorney.


"Maybe I shouldn't have invested in real estate in Janesville, Wis.," he said. "It's my fault as much as his. All of real estate in Janesville has tanked. It's not like he's the only guy who tanked."


Provorse said he wished his retirement accounts were doing better. He hasn't closed out the funds, so he hasn't lost money, he said.


"There's still property there," Provorse said. "It depends on what the economy does. If I get something out of it, I'll be happy."


A judge in December found Goodrich liable of theft by contractor and four other claims filed by Steven Barbeau. Barbeau gave Goodrich money to build a restaurant in the Village Plaza strip mall, but Goodrich admitted in civil court that he spent the money elsewhere.


Judge Dan Dillon ordered Goodrich to pay Barbeau $1.396 million and called Goodrich a "con man" whose conduct was worse than that of a poisonous snake.


Goodrich has appealed the ruling.


When Margery Tibbetts-Wakefield, Barbeau's attorney, filed for garnishment, Goodrich, his wife, Trudi, Esquire Management and Village Plaza Partnership filed for bankruptcy.


Those entities own most of Goodrich's assets and have most of the rental income coming in, Tibbetts-Wakefield said.


Barbeau asked the court to appoint a trustee to oversee the assets because of Goodrich's fraudulent conduct, Tibbets-Wakefield said.


The trustee, Jim McNeilly, operates the assets and gives Goodrich a stipend. Decisions are yet to be made on whether to sell the assets or operate them for the benefit of the creditors, he said.


The bankruptcy put on hold the many court cases against Goodrich cued up in Rock County.


Ramon Ruiz, for instance, is suing Goodrich for mismanagement and fraud over a business deal gone bad involving the Village Plaza. He is frustrated that no law enforcement agency has filed charges against Goodrich. Several investors filed a claim together and accuse Goodrich of diverting their investments for Goodrich's own use and also for giving fraudulent advice.


The Janesville police, the FBI and the state Department of Financial Institutions are investigating Goodrich, said Detective Chris Buescher of the Janesville Police Department,


Buescher began his investigation after Dillon's ruling in civil court. Buescher said he could easily take a criminal case of theft by contractor to the district attorney because Goodrich admitted to theft in civil court.


But that would help only Barbeau, who already has been awarded money, Buescher said.


The Department of Financial Institutions has been working on a case against Goodrich for 10 years, so "I don't hold out a lot of hope that they're going to do anything," Buescher said.


Buescher said the FBI appears to be serious.


"We do robberies, burglaries, simple thefts," Buescher said.


Goodrich's finances are not simple, he said, comparing them to a plate of spaghetti.


"Our job is to try to take each noodle and lay them out and find the ends of all of them What you end up having to do is find your best cases and go with that."


Buescher is frustrated with the delays, as well.


"You've got all these people getting into retirement who gave him (Goodrich) money for what they thought were just good old-fashioned IRAs that were going to accrue some interest and make some money," he said. "I feel bad for those people.


"The same people who (trusted Goodrich) because he's a minister know there's a special place for him, as well."



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