McCourt says he borrowed $60 million against Dodger land to help pay off wife’s mortgages

By Greg Risling, AP
Friday, September 3, 2010

McCourt says he took out Dodger loan to help wife

LOS ANGELES — Frank McCourt, who is battling his estranged wife for ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, testified Friday that he took out a $60 million loan on land around the team stadium to help her pay off debt on her palatial homes.

Testifying for a fourth day at his divorce trial, McCourt said he borrowed against the value of property surrounding Dodger Stadium so he could help pay the mortgages on six homes listed as his wife’s property in their marital agreement.

Court documents indicate that altogether, the couple has taken out more than $100 million from Dodger-related businesses to fund their lavish lifestyle.

On Thursday, McCourt claimed his wife was more concerned with property than baseball and didn’t want to take the risk associated with buying one of baseball’s most storied franchises six years ago.

Jamie McCourt only started representing herself as a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer when her marriage was on the ropes, her husband testified.

Earlier this week, he told the court that a postnuptial agreement signed by the couple in March 2004 was created to give his wife protection from his creditors while giving him the ability to run his businesses, including the then-recently purchased Dodgers.

McCourt bought the Dodgers in what he called a risky deal for about $430 million, a majority of which was funded with loans that needed to be refinanced within two years.

“She said to me repeatedly, ‘You can make a billion dollars, you can lose a billion dollars. I want my own nest egg,’ ” McCourt, 57, said Thursday.

His testimony cuts to the heart of the dispute that could decide who owns the team. He contends the agreement gives him sole ownership of the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Jamie McCourt believes the agreement should be thrown out and those assets should be split evenly under California’s community property law.

Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon will have to decide whether the 10-page agreement is valid. He also could order the sale of the Dodgers.

Jamie McCourt eventually became the team’s CEO, but her husband fired her last year. In court documents, he accused her of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver and not meeting job expectations.

McCourt also said he never told anyone that his wife was co-owner, a claim she began making last summer. Around the same time, McCourt was considering changing the agreement to make the Dodgers community property, but held off for nine months before deciding against it.

To make matters more confusing, three copies of the agreement list the Dodgers under McCourt’s separate assets, while three other versions do not. Her attorneys have alleged that a family attorney, at some point, replaced the three versions that excluded the Dodgers from McCourt’s assets with the three that included the team as his property.

Her lawyers have even suggested McCourt knew about the switch and committed fraud, something he vehemently denied Thursday.

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