Gary Thomas, National Association of Realtors President, Swears That He is Broke

The National Association of Realtors president, who resides in Mission Viejo, is denying allegations he and his two sons fraudulently pulled nearly $580,000 out of their South County real estate company before seeking bankruptcy protection.

"Exhibit A," as far as Gary Thomas is concerned, would be his having lost his Coto de Caza home in a short sale before moving into an apartment, while "Exhibit B" would be he and his boys being flat broke.

Keep in mind that Thomas was only elected to lead the National Association of Realtors in November, over the objections of members who pointed to the financial woes of his company Beneficial Services Inc., which did business as the Altera Real Estate chain. Thomas and his supporters blamed the battering the real estate sector took in the nation's economic downturn.

But in a lawsuit filed Friday in Santa Ana's bankruptcy court, trustee John M. Wolfe alleges Thomas, the Beneficial president, received $199,497, his executive vice president son Steven Thomas reaped $242,819 and his chief financial officer son Timothy Thomas drew $135,962 before the company filed for bankruptcy.

Gary Thomas tried "to divert and conceal assets from the creditors," contends the suit, adding, "Defendants knew or should have known that they were not entitled to these funds."

"If we had enriched ourselves, we would have money," Thomas reportedly said Monday when the Orange County Register ran him down at the National Association of Realtors meeting in Washington, D.C. "We wouldn't have had to file bankruptcy. No way we enriched ourselves."

(Steven Thomas, who has taken a job with an insurance company, also told the paper he's broke.)

The amounts Wolfe cited, Gary Thomas claims, were each officer's salary over the course of the year leading up to the bankruptcy filing--and that he as president personally stopped drawing a paycheck when having to see protection became evident. 

Talk about being upside down: the Register cited court records showing that the combined debts from Thomas' corporate and personal bankruptcies totaled $13.2 million, while the combined assets were $1.7 million.

Perhaps underwater homeowners can take some solace in knowing misery also loves the National Association of Realtors president.

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