|Gloria Allred and Maureen Stemberg|
Mitt Romney might have blown his chance for the presidency by lying under oath in a divorce case some 20 years ago. The ex wife of a former Romney business partner claims that the GOP candidate testified falsely about the value of a company and cost her millions of dollars in the process. Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred represents Maureen Sullivan Stemberg and is expected to push at a hearing today for release of Romney's testimony from 1991. Some in the press have dubbed the story "Gloria Allred's October Surprise," saying Romney's candidacy could sink if it is shown he committed perjury.
Such an outcome would be ironic because we have been reporting for months about rich men who made false statements under oath in a divorce case, cheating an ex wife and two daughters out of millions in family support. Our story centers around an Alabama divorce case styled Rollins v. Rollins, which is the worst courtroom cheat job we've encountered in the civil arena. It was so grotesque that Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins and her daughters, Sarah and Emma Rollins, actually wound up on food stamps--even though ex-husband and father Ted Rollins owns multiple private planes, belongs to one of the nation's wealthiest families, and is CEO of a company (Campus Crest Communities) that completed a $380-million Wall Street IPO in 2010.
Could Gloria Allred turn her attention to Ted Rollins after she is finished with Mitt Romney and his pal Thomas Stemberg, the founder of Staples? She might want to consider it. Romney has an estimated net worth of about $250 million, while Stemberg is worth about $300 million. Add those two together and you get an impressive number.
But it pales in comparison to the Rollins family. Ted Rollins' company has received close to $450 million in total investor support, so he is doing OK. But his cousin, R. Randall Rollins, truly is in the financial big leagues. Randall Rollins is chairman of Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the umbrella firm for Orkin Pest Control and other profitable enterprises. Published reports show that Randall Rollins' net worth is well north of $1 billion.
Randall and Ted Rollins were partners in a business called St. James Capital, which by law should have been equitably divided as a marital asset in Ted Rollins' divorce from Sherry Rollins. Instead, Randall and Ted Rollins lied their corporate fannies off, greatly reducing Ted's child-support payments and ensuring that Sherry Rollins would get nothing out of St. James Capital.
That's not to say Maureen Sullivan Stemburg didn't get the shaft. According to a report at the UK Daily Mail, Romney "pulled a Randall Rollins" on his business partner's first wife:
Mitt Romney allegedly provided testimony in the bitter divorce of his friend and staunch advocate, ex-Staples CEO Tom Stemberg, that meant his ex-wife received a poor divorce settlement.
Sources told TMZ that Romney, whose hedge fund, Bain Capital, was an investor in Staples before it became a household name, testified in the case that the company was worth virtually nothing and that his friend was a 'dreamer'.
He testified during the hearings in 1988 that the company's stock was 'overvalued' and that the future did not look good. Later he and Stemberg allegedly went to Goldman Sachs to cash in their stock for a massive payout, according to TMZ.
His bitter ex-wife Maureen Stemberg claims this testimony effected how much she got from the settlement.
Rich people lying to get off easy--or help a friend or family member get off easy--in a divorce case? That might be a shocker to the general public, but it should be no surprise to folks who have followed our Rollins v. Rollins coverage. Let's review:
* Ted Rollins stated under oath in an Alabama child-support affidavit, called a Form CS-41, that his annual income was roughly $50,000--and it all came from his work with a mortgage company in Brentwood, Tennessee. Public records show that Rollins was a partner/owner at the time in both St. James Capital and Campus Crest Communities. Rollins also was a major player in the Crescent Center, a development in Greenville, South Carolina, that offers 750,000 square feet of manufacturing, distribution, office, and retail space. He derived no income from the Crescent Center? Slightly hard to believe.
* Randall Rollins, during a deposition at his office in Atlanta, provided documents to Sherry Rollins' lawyers that are so absurd they almost produce guffaws. Randall Rollins stated that Ted Rollins had sold his interest in St. James Capital for roughly $85,000, the total of several loans that Randall had made to his cousin. But Sherry Rollins says she saw documents on Ted Rollins' computer that the company was started with $34 million in capital--$17 million from Randall Rollins and $17 million from John Rollins Sr., Ted's father. When the senior Rollins died in 2000, his shares went back into the company and Ted became half owner.
And that's not all. Sherry Rollins said records showed that St. James Capital owned 28 properties throughout the United States and Canada. An expert witness testified at the divorce trial that Ted Rollins, one month earlier, had made $1.4 million off just one of the properties.
Finally, Randall Rollins provided documents that showed St. James Capital had an interest in two particularly valuable properties--an industrial building in Greenville, South Carolina (appraised value, $9.6 million) and a San Francisco RV park that rests on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean (appraised value, $7.8 million).
If St. James Capital had 26 other properties of similar value, that means it had assets of almost $245 million. But we are to believe that Ted Rollins sold his interest in such a company for $85,000? Even a graduate of the Jethro Bodine College of Business would not make that deal.
What will happen in the Stemberg divorce battle? If Mitt Romney is proven to be a perjurer, will it ensure four more years for Barack Obama in the White House? We should know more when a hearing concludes today in Canton, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, we are putting out an alert for Gloria Allred: If she is able to ruin Mitt Romney's presidential hopes, she needs to turn her attention toward the South. The Rollins boys might not be as famous as the Romney/Stemberg pairing. But they have more money, and evidence is overwhelming that they lied under oath in an ugly divorce case.