published Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Dalton: Liquidation of Prebul items coming to close


by Lauren Gregory
Audio clip

Joe Kirby

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Court order for Prebul

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A Dalton, Ga., auto dealer’s $1.2 million vehicle purchase from Prebul Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Chattanooga on Wednesday appears to be the last major liquidation in Prebul AutoGroup’s bankruptcy case, according to trustee Jerrold Farinash.

“We don’t really have much else to liquidate,” Mr. Farinash said. “There’s still a lot of stuff around such as parts, furniture and light fixtures, but most of those things are secured to lenders, and they’ll probably end up getting those back.”

As the attorney appointed to oversee the bankruptcy of Autogroup President Joseph Prebul — which is not a personal filing but includes six of his business entities — Mr. Farinash is keeping the dealerships open as he sells off as much as possible to pay millions in debt.

There won’t be enough money to pay off everything, however.

A Times Free Press analysis of court documents shows more than $41 million in liabilities across the dealerships. Mr. Farinash has negotiated sales of those dealerships’ franchise rights for a total of $940,000 and is awaiting final approval from the appropriate vehicle manufacturers before those deals can be finalized.

The $40,000 coming from the sale of Prebul Chrysler Jeep Dodge is contingent upon how Chrysler’s corporate bankruptcy proceedings shake out, according to Mr. Farinash.

In the meantime, Mr. Farinash has been selling off all the assets he can. Joe Kirby, owner of Edd Kirby Adventure Chevrolet in Dalton, said he bought about 150 used cars from Prebul Chrysler Jeep Dodge on Wednesday in the $1.2 million deal he’d been negotiating since February.

He already had purchased close to 100 used vehicles from Mr. Prebul’s Dalton store for $1 million and another 21 from his Volvo and Infiniti lots in Chattanooga for $250,000.

A longtime fixture in the local vehicle market, Mr. Prebul filed for bankruptcy shortly after his arrest on federal wire fraud charges in February. Both criminal and civil cases are pending against him in U.S. District Court in New York, as well as another civil case in Hamilton County Circuit Court.

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